Evelyn Cheesman

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Lucy Evelyn Cheesman (1881–1969) was a British entomologist and traveller.

Cheesman was unable to train for a career as a veterinary surgeon due to restrictions on women's education. Instead, she studied entomology, and was the first woman to be hired as a curator at Regent's Park Zoo, in London. In 1924 she was invited to join a zoological expedition to the Marquesas and Galapagos Islands. She spent approximately twelve years on similar expeditions, travelling to New Guinea, the New Hebrides and other islands in the Pacific Ocean. In New Guinea she made a collecting expedition to the coastal area between Aitape and Jayapura (known as Hollandia at the time) and visited the Cyclop Mountains, near Jayapura, collecting insects.[1]

Evelyn assisted at the Natural History Museum, London for many years as a volunteer. She was awarded an OBE for her contribution to entomology. A number of insect species are named after her including the recently described true bug Costomedes cheesmanae.[2]

She also collected reptiles and amphibians and several New Guinea species were named in her honour:

The tree frog is interesting in that the herpetologist who described it, has used the masculine genitive ending 'i' instead of the feminine 'ae', showing an assumption that the collector must have been a man. In New Guinea, Cheesman briefly investigated the mysterious flying lights now called "ropen lights," decades before the late-20th Century and early 21st Century ropen expeditions. In her book The Two Roads of Papua, she dismissed the possibility that the lights are from "any human agency." Nevertheless, her investigation did not acknowledge the possibility of a cryptid, therefore she is not labelled a cryptozoologist.

Cheesman was the author of many books and scientific articles on entomology and her travels.


  1. ^ Tuzin, Donald F. (1997) ‘The Cassowary's Revenge: the life and death of masculinity in a New Guinea society’ University of Chicago Press, p. 86
  2. ^ Doesburg, P.H. van. A taxonomic revision of the family Velocipedidae Bergroth, 1891 (Insecta: Heteroptera) Zool. Verh. Leiden 347, 28.v.2004, 5-110, figs 1-229.— ISSN 0024-1652/ISBN 90-73229-92-3