Dubois, Marie Eugène François Thomas
Curator (1899 –1928) (1858 - 1940)
Originally an anatomist, Dubois hoped to find the ‘missing link' between
apes and humans. In 1887 he interrupted his career as a university lecturer to
serve as a medical officer second class in the Royal Indies Army, largely as a
pretext for travelling cheaply to the Dutch East Indies
in realisation of a long-held dream. His explorations in Java turned up several
fossils, such as the wisdom tooth, skullcap, and thighbone of a creature that had walked upright, but whose brain had
a much smaller capacity than that of a modern human. Dubois had found his
upright ape-man, the Pithecanthropus
erectus that would provide him world fame.
In 1899 Dubois became the new curator of Teylers Museum Palaeontological and Mineralogical Cabinet. He also became professor in crystallography, mineralogy, geology and palaeontology in Amsterdam. The hope that he might also discover an ape-man in the Netherlands underlay an extensive search for fossils in Tegelen. The large collection of the discoveries he made there laid the basis for further research in the twentieth century.
In later life he lived virtually as a hermit in his castle in Limburg, travelling to the Museum less frequently. He was a colourful figure about whom much was written - even a comic strip was made about him.