Teylers Museum

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2011 CH Haarlem, NL
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Nauwe Appelaarsteeg 3
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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.

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