Marc van Roosmalen

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Marc van Roosmalen
Born (1947-06-23) June 23, 1947 (age 74)
Tilburg, Netherlands
Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam
Years active1976–present

Dr. Marc van Roosmalen (born June 23, 1947) is a Dutch-Brazilian primatologist. He was elected as one of the "Heroes of the Planet" by Time magazine in 2000.[1] His research has led to the identification of several new monkey species, as well as other animals and plants, although some of these identifications are challenged as dubious, unconvincing, or contradictory to the evidence.[2] He is also an activist in the protection of the Brazilian rainforest.[3] Van Roosmalen was awarded the honour of officer in the Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1997.[4][5]


Van Roosmalen studied biology at the University of Amsterdam and did four years of doctoral fieldwork beginning in 1976 studying the red-faced spider monkey in Suriname. He later did two more years of work in French Guiana, following which he published the book Fruits of the Guianan Flora. In 1986 he was hired by the INPA (Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research, where he initially thrived. During this period, he launched a non-governmental organization focused on creating wilderness preserves in the deep Amazon. He became a naturalized Brazilian citizen in 1997. Marc considers Alfred Russel Wallace a hero and is an advocate of Wallace's "river barrier" hypothesis that the major rivers of the Amazonian basin serve as barriers that create separate genetically distinct evolutionary regions. [2]

Personal life[edit]

Marc grew up in Tilburg, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. His father was a chemist. He met and married his first wife while living in Utrecht, where he had moved for school at age 17. They had two sons. In early 2008, he divorced his first wife and married his Brazilian girlfriend.[6]

Publications (selection)[edit]

  • Wild Fruits from the Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, Vol. I , Plates, Paperback, ISBN 978-1493776160
  • Wild Fruits from the Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, Vol. II , Plates, Paperback, ISBN 978-1516879533
  • Wild Fruits from the Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017, Vol. III , Plates, Paperback, ISBN 978-1542831451
  • Barefoot through the Amazon – On the Path of Evolution, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, Paperback, ISBN 978-1482578249
  • A Shaman’s Apprentice - Traditional Healing in the Brazilian Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, Vol. III, Paperback ISBN 978-1484034415
  • On the Origin of Allopatric Primate Species and the Principle of Metachromic Bleaching, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, ISBN 978-1494330347, co-authored by Dr. Tomas van Roosmalen
  • Distributions and Phylogeography of Neotropical Primates, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, Paperback, ISBN 978-1494852535, co-authored by Dr. Tomas van Roosmalen
  • On the Origin of Allopatric Primate Species, 2016, Biodiversity Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 117-198.[1] ISSN 2039-0394 (Print Edition) ISSN 2039-0408 (Online Edition), co-authored with Tomas van Roosmalen
  • Live from the Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, Paperback, ISBN 978-1517514631
  • Black Gold: Pre-Columbian Farming on Terra Preta Anthrosol in the Amazon, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, Paperback, ISBN 978-1534790148


In 2002, he was fined by the IBAMA (Brazilian Ministry of the Environment's Enforcement Agency) for illegal transportation of monkeys and orchids from the unexplored Amazonian region of Serra do Aracá. In April 2003, Roosmalen was fired from his job with the INPA for illegally exportation of environmental genetic samples to outside Brazil.[7] Around this time, the board of the NGO removed him as president and removed its resources from his control.[2]

In 2007, he was arrested by the Brazilian government for illegally keeping orphaned monkeys in a monkey refuge at his house in the Amazon and for misappropriation of Brazilian public funds.[7] He was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison. Van Roosmalen claims that he applied for permits for his monkey preserve. The bulk of his sentence was for an embezzling charge after he was accused of stealing scaffolding tower in 1996.[citation needed] He was placed in the notorious Raimundo Vidal Pessoa Penitentiary. At one point Van Roosmalen shared a cell with two violent crack addicts whose drug debts he paid.[6] He is currently free on appeal.[8][9]

Van Roosmalen told a Wired news reporter that he has a video of two ex-policemen knocking on his door immediately after tucking revolvers into their pants. Believing that he would be killed if he stayed, he and his partner Vivi went on the run with no plans to return to their home in Manaus as of May 2008.[6]

Marc van Roosmalen was appointed as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence for the 2010-2011 academic year at Bard College.[10]

Roosmalen's dwarf porcupine and Roosmalens' dwarf marmoset are discovered by and named after him. He named the Prince Bernhard's titi after Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, co-founder and former president of the WWF.


  1. ^ Time Archived from the original on December 2, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Edinger, Claudio (February 2008). "Trials of a Primatologist". Smithsonian. 38 (11): 82–95. Archived from the original on October 14, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2008.
  3. ^[permanent dead link]
  4. ^[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Orde van de Gouden Ark". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Why Does This Prominent Amazon Researcher Face 14 Years in Prison for Biopiracy? Archived October 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine - Wired Article
  7. ^ a b Pesquisador holandês é condenado no Amazonas. Archived October 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine - Folha Online
  8. ^ Rohter, Larry (August 28, 2007). "As Brazil Defends Its Bounty, Rules Ensnare Scientists". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  9. ^ " - 'Hero' biologist jailed in Brazil". Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
  10. ^ "World-Renowned Biologist and Amazon Researcher Marc van Roosmalen Joins Bard College as Visiting Scholar and Gives Public Talk on October 26". Bard College. Retrieved September 28, 2020.

External links[edit]