James Cossar Ewart

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James Cossar Ewart FRS[1] (November 26, 1851 – December 31, 1933) was a Scottish zoologist. He was the son of John Ewart, a joiner, and Jean Cossar.

Ewart was born in Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland.[2] He studied medicine from 1871 to 1874 at the University of Edinburgh, where he later became professor of Natural History from 1882 to 1927.[3] After graduation, he became an anatomy demonstrator under William Turner and then held the position of Curator of the Zoological Museum at University College, London, where he was instrumental in establishing the first course of practical zoology. Here he collaborated with Ray Lankester, later director of the Natural History Museum. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June, 1893, having jointly delivered their Croonian Lecture in 1881.

Among various other studies, he performed breeding experiments with horses and zebras, well before the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's works. Ewart crossed a male zebra with a female pony to show that the theory of telegony inherited from the Greeks was unsound. Telegony held that a female with a history of mating with multiple males would pass on genetic qualities of all previous partners to her offspring. Ewart later bred the mare which had produced zebra-horse hybrids with a pony, and the offspring showed no zebra qualities in either markings or temperament. Ewart's goal was also to produce a draught animal for South African conditions, resistant to African diseases and more tractable than a mule.

In 1883 he commissioned George Washington Browne to design a grand new house in Penicuik which is where he died. This was finished in 1885. It is now the Craigiebield House Hotel.[4]


  1. ^ m., F. H. A. (1934). "James Cossar Ewart. 1851-1933". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 1 (3): 189. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1934.0004.  edit
  2. ^ "EWART, James Cossar". Who's Who, 59: 570. 1907. 
  3. ^ a., J. H. (1934). "Prof. J. Cossar Ewart, F.R.S". Nature 133 (3353): 165–160. doi:10.1038/133165a0.  edit
  4. ^ McWilliam, Colin. Buildings of Scotland: Midlothian, p. 384

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