Frederick Bayer

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Frederick Merkle Bayer (October 31, 1921 – October 2, 2007)[1] was the emeritus curator of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, as well as a prominent marine biologist who specialized in the study of soft corals.[1]

Early life[edit]

Frederick Bayer was born on Halloween night 1921,[2] in Asbury Park, New Jersey,[1] but spent much of his childhood in south Florida, where he collected seashells and became an amateur naturalist.[1]

Bayer joined the Army Air Forces during World War II and served in the Pacific as a photographic technician.[1] While in the military, he often sketched and collected fish, shells and butterflies throughout the Pacific region.[1]

Bayer received his bachelor's degree from the University of Miami.[1] He continued his studies and obtained a master's degree in taxonomy from George Washington University in 1954.[1] In 1958, he completed a doctorate in taxonomy from George Washington University.[1]


Bayer worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History from 1947 until 1961.[1] He returned to work at the museum again from 1975 until 1996.[1] He served as a professor at the University of Miami's marine science school between 1961 and 1975. While at Miami, Bayer participated in a number of soft coral collecting expecitions in the Caribbean Sea and in the waters off West Africa.[1]

Following his arrival at the Smithsonian, Bayer was sent to Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Oceanto study the effects of nuclear testing on the island's marine life, just two years after the tests were carried out.[1] Bayer also spent several months doing field research throughout the rest of Micronesia.[1]

Bayer wrote over 130 scholarly papers on the history and taxonomy of soft coral.[1] He focused much of his soft coral research on octocorals, which include sea fans and sea whips.[1] He discovered 170 new species of marine life, 40 new genera, and three new families.[1]

Japan's Emperor Hirohito, who was also a marine biologist, actually named a hydroid, Hydractinia bayeri, in honor of Frederick Bayer.[1] Bayer returned the favor while Hirohito was on a state visit to Washington, D.C. in 1975. He presented Hirohito with a rare snail shell which was the "size of a hat."[1]

Bayer served as a member of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature from 1972 to 1995.[1]

He was also an accomplished bio-illustrator. Bayer painted and designed a total of fourteen scientifically accurate marine scenes. These particular scenes were used for a set of Haitian postage stamps in 1973.[1]


Frederick Bayer died of congestive heart failure on October 2, 2007, at the Washington Home hospice in Washington D.C. at the age of 85.[1]

Taxa named in honor[edit]

Taxa named in honor of Frederick Bayer include:

Taxa named by him[edit]

Taxa named by Frederick Bayer include:



See also[edit]

Other malacologists named Bayer include:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Bernstein, Adam (2007-10-23). "Frederick Bayer, 85; biologist studied corals in deep sea". Washington Post. Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  2. ^ Cairns, Stephen (2007-11-03). "In memoriam: Dr. Frederick "Ted" Bayer". Deep Sea News. Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Cairns S. D. (2008). "Frederick M. Bayer – Commissioner 1972-1995, octocoral taxonomist and Smithsonian curator". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 65(2): 86-87.
  4. ^ Kantor, Y.; Gofas, S. (2010). Latiromitra cryptodon. In: Bouchet, P.; Gofas, S.; Rosenberg, G. (2010) World Marine Mollusca database. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at on 2011-09-12
  5. ^ a b Coan E. V., Kabat A. R. & Petit R. E. (15 February 2011). 2,400 years of malacology, 8th ed. Archived November 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., 936 pp. + 42 pp. [Annex of Collations]. American Malacological Society

External links[edit]