EO Wilson, naturalist nicknamed “Modern Darwin”, dies at 92

Edward O. Wilson, an American naturalist known as the “modern-day Darwin” died Sunday at the age of 92 in Massachusetts, his founding announced in a statement.

Along with British naturalist David Attenborough, Wilson was considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on natural history and conservation. Wilson’s Half-Earth Project calls for protecting half of the planet’s land and seas so that there are enough diverse and well-connected ecosystems to turn the tide of species extinction, which is occurring at a a pace never seen in 10 million years.

The United Nations has urged countries to pledge to conserve 30% of their land and water – nearly double the area currently under some form of protection – by 2030, a goal known as the “30 over 30 ”and inspired in part by Wilson.

Born in the state of Alabama, in the southern United States, Wilson’s trajectory as an entomologist, studying insects, unfolded at the age of 10, when he spent hours in the woods collecting insects and butterflies.

He then spent 70 years as a scientist at Harvard University, as a professor and curator in entomology. During his career, Wilson discovered more than 400 species of ants. He said one of his greatest accomplishments was finding out how ants communicate hazards and food trails, for example, by emitting chemicals.

Wilson sparked controversy when his 1975 book “Sociobiology: The New Synthesis” was interpreted by some scientists to imply that human behaviors like altruism or hostility are determined by genes, or “nature,” rather. than the environment or “education”. Critics of the time decried the theory as carrying echoes of eugenics.

He lived in a retirement community in the northeastern United States and had recently published the latest in a long series of books on biodiversity.

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