James Chapin

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James Paul Chapin
The American Museum journal (c1900-(1918)) (17973514089).jpg
Born(1889-07-09)9 July 1889
Died5 April 1964(1964-04-05) (aged 74)

James Paul Chapin (July 9, 1889 – April 5, 1964) was an American ornithologist.


Chapin is one of the highest-regarded ornithologists of the twentieth century.[1] He was joint leader (with Herbert Lang) of the Lang–Chapin expedition, which made a biological survey of the Belgian Congo between 1909 and 1915. For his work The Birds of the Belgian Congo, Part I, he was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1932.[2] He received a doctorate from Columbia University in 1919, and then began a lengthy career at the American Museum of Natural History.[1]

Chapin served as the 17th president of The Explorers Club from 1949 to 1950.


Chapin is commemorated in the scientific names of three species of African reptiles: Ichnotropis chapini, Pelusios chapini, and Trioceros chapini.[3] Dr. Chapin returned to the Belgian Congo in 1953 to continue fieldwork which he had started more than half a century earlier. When asked about his most famous discovery he mentioned the Congo Peacock, adding that he had obtained a feather from this hitherto unknown bird from a pygmy on one of his expeditions, but had never seen the bird. It was unknown to science. Years later he was able to identify it as the rare Congo Peacock.


  1. ^ a b "Staten Island on the Web: Famous Staten Islanders". New York Public Library. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009.
  2. ^ "Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Chapin", pp. 51-52).

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