Oldfield Thomas

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Oldfield Thomas
Portrait of Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas - ZooKeys-255-103-g003-bottom right.jpeg
Painting by Walter Stoneman
Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas

21 February 1858
Died16 June 1929(1929-06-16) (aged 71)
Known forMammalogy
Scientific career
InstitutionsNatural History Museum
Author abbrev. (zoology)Thomas

Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas FRS FZS (21 February 1858 – 16 June 1929) was a British zoologist.[1][2][3]


Thomas worked at the Natural History Museum on mammals, describing about 2,000 new species and subspecies for the first time. He was appointed to the museum secretary's office in 1876, transferring to the zoological department in 1878. In 1891, Thomas married Mary Kane, daughter of Sir Andrew Clark, heiress to a small fortune, which gave him the finances to hire mammal collectors and present their specimens to the museum.[4] He also did field work himself in Western Europe and South America. His wife shared his interest in natural history, and accompanied him on collecting trips.[2] In 1896, when William Henry Flower took control of the department, he hired Richard Lydekker to rearrange the exhibitions,[5] allowing Thomas to concentrate on these new specimens.[6][7]

Thomas viewed his taxonomy efforts from the scope of British imperialism. "You and I in our scientific lives have seen the general knowledge of Mammals of the world wonderfully advanced – there are few or no blank areas anymore," he said in a letter to Gerrit Smith Miller.[4]

Officially retired from the museum in 1923, he continued his work without interruption. Although popular rumours suggested he died by shooting himself with a handgun while sitting at his museum desk,[8] he actually died at home[9] in 1929, aged 71, about a year after the death of his wife, "a severe blow from which he never recovered".[2]

Taxonomic descriptions[edit]

Higher ranks[edit]



  1. Admiralty flying fox
  2. Asian particolored bat
  3. Azores noctule
  4. Bare-tailed armored tree-rat
  5. Beatrix's bat
  6. Bibundi bat
  7. Birdlike noctule
  8. Bonthain rat
  9. Brooks's dyak fruit bat
  10. Dark-brown serotine
  11. Dayak fruit bat
  12. Desert woodrat
  13. Egyptian pipistrelle
  14. Ethiopian hare
  15. Euryoryzomys macconnelli
  16. Forrest's pika
  17. Buller's pocket gopher
  18. Great evening bat
  19. Greater bamboo bat
  20. Greater Papuan pipistrelle
  21. Greater sheath-tailed bat
  22. Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat
  23. Hairy-footed flying squirrel
  24. Harpy fruit bat
  25. Hinde's lesser house bat
  26. Holochilus chacarius
  27. Hylomyscus aeta
  28. Indonesian mountain weasel
  29. Intermediate long-fingered bat
  30. Isabelle's ghost bat
  31. Junín red squirrel
  32. Korean hare
  33. Lagos serotine
  34. Large Luzon forest rat
  35. Lesser long-fingered bat
  36. Light-winged lesser house bat
  37. Long-tailed planigale
  38. Bengal slow loris
  39. Javan slow loris
  40. Luzon hairy-tailed rat
  41. Maclear's rat
  42. Goeldi's marmoset
  43. Melanomys robustulus
  44. Mindomys hammondi
  45. Miniopterus manavi
  46. Monito del monte
  47. Mount Popa pipistrelle
  48. Bare-tailed woolly mouse opossum
  49. White-bellied woolly mouse opossum
  50. Woolly mouse opossum
  51. Mouse-like hamster
  52. Neacomys guianae
  53. Neacomys spinosus
  54. Neacomys tenuipes
  55. Nectomys magdalenae
  56. Nephelomys auriventer
  57. Nephelomys caracolus
  58. Nephelomys childi
  59. Nephelomys levipes
  60. Nephelomys meridensis
  61. Nesoryzomys indefessus
  62. New Guinea long-eared bat
  63. Oecomys flavicans
  64. Oecomys mamorae
  65. Oecomys paricola
  66. Oecomys phaeotis
  67. Oecomys rex
  68. Oecomys roberti
  69. Oecomys superans
  70. Oligoryzomys arenalis
  71. Oligoryzomys victus
  72. Opossum rat
  73. Oreoryzomys balneator
  74. Oryzomys peninsulae
  75. Parahydromys asper
  76. Paruromys dominator
  77. Persian vole
  78. Pratt's roundleaf bat
  79. Proechimys roberti
  80. Pygmy fruit bat
  81. Sculptor squirrel
  82. Scutisorex somereni
  83. Southern common cuscus
  84. Sphaerias blanfordi
  85. Spinifex hopping mouse
  86. Strange big-eared brown bat
  87. Sturdee's pipistrelle
  88. Sulawesi giant rat
  89. Surat serotine
  90. Szechwan myotis
  91. Taiwan field mouse
  92. Thomas's yellow bat
  93. Tiny pipistrelle
  94. Velvety fruit-eating bat
  95. Western broad-nosed bat
  96. White-bellied lesser house bat
  97. White-tipped tufted-tailed rat
  98. Woolly flying squirrel
  99. Woolly-headed spiny tree-rat
  100. Zygodontomys brunneus
  101. Zyzomys argurus


  1. ^ "Thomas, Oldfield". Who's Who. 59. A & C Black. 1907. p. 1737.
  2. ^ a b c Haddon, Alfred Cort (1929). "MR. M. R. Oldfield Thomas, F.R.S". Nature. 124 (3116): 101–102. doi:10.1038/124101a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  3. ^ Haddon, Albert Cort (9 May 1901). "M. R. Oldfield Thomas". Nature. 64 (1645): 37–38. doi:10.1038/064038a0.
  4. ^ a b "Between Science and Empire: Oldfield Thomas and Anglo-American Zoology". Smithsonian Institution Archives. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  5. ^ The Natural History Museum at South Kensington, William T. Stearn ISBN 0-434-73600-7
  6. ^ Oldfield Thomas, Catalogue of the Marsupialia and Monotremata in the Collection of the British Museum (Natural History) Dept of Zoology (1888), Taylor and Francis, London Catalogue of the Marsupialia... full text retrieved 21 March 2007
  7. ^ Oldfield Thomas F. R. S., The History of the Collections Contained in the Natural History Departments of the British Museum Vol. II, Separate Historical accounts of the Historical Collections included in the Department of Zoology, I. Mammals,(1906) William Clowes and Sons Ltd. London. retrieved 21 March 2007 The History of the Collections..." full text
  8. ^ Flannery, T. (6 November 2012). Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-8021-9404-6. OCLC 793838823. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  9. ^ Portch, Lorraine (18 November 2015). "Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas – a resolved ending to a suicide mystery". London: Blogs from the Natural History Museum.

External links[edit]