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September 27, 1826|
|Died||November 10, 1900
|Author abbreviation (botany)||David|
Born in Ezpeleta near Bayonne, in the north of Basque Country, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques département of France, he entered the Congregation of the Mission in 1848, having already displayed great fondness for the natural sciences. Ordained in 1862, he was shortly afterwards sent to Beijing, where he began a collection of material for a museum of natural history, mainly zoological, but in which botany, geology, and palaeontology were also well represented.
At the request of the French government, important specimens from his collection were sent to Paris and aroused the greatest interest. The Jardin des Plantes commissioned him to undertake scientific journeys through China to make further collections. He succeeded in obtaining many specimens of hitherto unknown animals and plants, and the value of his comprehensive collections for the advance of systematic zoology and especially for the advancement of animal geography received universal recognition from the scientific world.
Father David summed up his labours in an address delivered before the International Scientific Congress of Catholics at Paris in April, 1888. He had found in China all together 200 species of wild animals, of which 63 were hitherto unknown to zoologists, and 807 species of birds, 65 of which had not been described before. He made a large collection of reptiles, amphibians, and fishes and handed it over to specialists for further study. Also a large number of moths and insects, many of them hitherto unknown, were brought to the museum of the Jardin des Plantes. What Father David's scientific journeys meant for botany may be inferred from the fact that among the rhododendrons which he collected no less than fifty-two new species were found and among the primulae about forty, while the Western Mountains of China furnished an even greater number of hitherto unknown species of gentian.
The most remarkable of the animals found by David which were hitherto-unknown to Europe were the Giant Panda in Baoxing County and Père David's Deer. The latter had disappeared with the exception of a few preserved in the gardens of the Emperor of China, but David succeeded in securing a specimen and sent it to Europe. In the midst of his work as a naturalist Father David did not neglect his missionary labours, and was noted for his careful devotion to his religious duties and for his obedience to every detail of his order's rules.
- Religion in China
- Jesuit China missions
- Christianity in China
- List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics
Catholic missionaries in China
- Michel Benoist
- Giuseppe Castiglione
- Armand David
- Matteo Ricci
- Johann Adam Schall von Bell
- Ferdinand Verbiest
- St. Francis Xavier
Protestant missionaries in China
- See separate article List of Protestant missionaries in China.