Herculano Marcos Ferraz de Alvarenga

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Herculano Marcos Ferraz de Alvarenga
Born Herculano Marcos Ferraz de Alvarenga
(1947-11-07) November 7, 1947 (age 70)
Taubaté, Brazil
Residence Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Alma mater Universidade de Taubaté
Scientific career
Fields Paleontology, Medicine
Institutions Taubaté Natural History Museum
Doctoral advisor Elizabeth Hofling
Author abbrev. (zoology) Alvarenga

Herculano Marcos Ferraz de Alvarenga (born 7 November 1947) is a Brazilian ornithologist, paleontologist and physician, founder of the Taubaté Natural History Museum.[1][2]


Herculano Alvarenga was born in 1947 in Taubaté, São Paulo, Brazil. As a teenager, he started to watch birds and collect them. He went to São Paulo when he was 15 to study taxidermy and soon his stuffed specimens started to be exhibited in scientific expositions in high school.[3]

His interests in biology and anatomy led him to study medicine, specializing in orthopedy. In 1975 he returned to Taubaté and became professor of the Faculty of Medicine in the city. When the faculty went on strike in 1977, he started to look for fossils, which led him to discover the first fossil of Paraphysornis brasiliensis.[3]

After the description of Paraphysornis brasiliensis was published in 1982,[4] the fossil gained high notoriety in the scientific community. Many museums worldwide asked for replicas of the fossil, trading it for replicas of other famous fossils.[3] Soon Alvarenga had a rich collection of replicas and some actual fossils, as well as several stuffed animals. As a result, he founded in 2000 the Fundação de Apoio à Ciência e Natureza (Foundation for the Support of Science and Nature), which led to the opening of the Taubaté Natural History Museum in 2004.[2] Currently, Alvarenga is the leading paleornithologist in Brazil, having described various fossil species, including taxa from the Paleocene (Itaboraí, Rio de Janeiro) such as Diogenornis and Paleopsilopterus, Oligocene/Miocene (Taubaté basin, São Paulo) such as Paraphysornis and Hoazinavis, and Pleistocene (Bahia and Minas Gerais), such as Pleistovultur and Wingegyps, in collaboration with a number of scientists.[5][6][7][8]


  1. ^ Alvarenga, H. (2004) Tucanos das Américas/Toucans of the Americas. M. Pontual Ed.: 120pp.
  2. ^ a b Museu de História Natural de Taubaté. (Undated) Histórico. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Moon, P. (2012). "Herculano Alvarenga descobriu fósseis e hoje dirige seu próprio museu de história natural." Época. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  4. ^ Alvarenga, H. M. F. (1982). "Uma gigantesca ave fóssil do cenozóico brasileiro: Physornis brasiliensis sp. n.". Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências. 54 (4): 697–712.
  5. ^ Alvarenga, H. F. (1997) Aves Fósseis: História da Origem e Evolução. In: Sick, H. (1997) Ornitologia Brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira.
  6. ^ Alvarenga, H. M. F.; Olson, S. L. (2004) A new genus of tiny condor from the Pleistocene of Brazil (Aves: Vulturidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117 (1): 1-9.
  7. ^ Alvarenga, H.; Brito, G. R. R.; Migotto, R.; Hubbe, A.; Höfling, E. (2008) Pleistovultur nevesi gen. et sp. nov. (Aves: Vulturidae) and the diversity of condors and vultures in the South American Pleistocene. Ameghiniana 45 (3): 613-618.
  8. ^ Mayr, G.; Alvarenga, H.; Mourer-Chauviré, C. (2011) Out of Africa: Fossils shed light on the origin of the hoatzin, an iconic Neotropic bird". Naturwissenschaften 98 (11): 961–966.