Otto Fabricius

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Otto Fabricius

Otto Fabricius (1744–1822) was a Danish missionary, naturalist, ethnographer and explorer of Greenland. He was sent to Greenland 1768–1773 and during this brief period he made enormous amounts of observations and collections. The facilities at his command were primitive to the extreme. His laboratory was an inuit house made of turf, his only artificial light was an oil lamp, he had a few magnifying glasses and only one book was in his library, Linnaei Systema Naturae. Nevertheless, Otto Fabricius made enough zoological observation to be able to publish a magnificent Fauna Groenlandica (1780) after his return to Denmark. Here, he described 473 animal species, 130 of which were new to science. Detailed descriptions are given, including information on habitat and behaviour, the vernacular inuit name, what use inuit people make of the animal and not least how they catch it.

  • Fauna Groenlandica systematice sistens .... Othonis Fabricii. Hafniae et Lipsiae, MDCCLXXX. Sections on mammals and birds translated to Danish in O. Helms (1929): Otto Fabricius, Fauna Groenlandica, Pattedyr og Fugle, Det Grønlandske Selskabs Skrifter vol. 6. The section on seals translated and thoroughry commented by F.O. Kapel (2005): Otto Fabricius and the seals of Greenland. MoG Bioscience 55: 1-150.
  • Jensen, A.S. (1932) Otto Fabricius, pp. 72–75 in: Meisen, V. Prominent Danish Scientists through the Ages. University Library of Copenhagen 450th Anniversary. Levin & Munksgaard, Copenhagen.