Peter Simon Pallas (1767-1810) was a Prussian zoologist and botanist. He was born in Berlin, to Simon Pallas, a professor of surgery. Post his initial years of studies, he moved to Netherlands where he passed his doctor’s degree at the age of 19. Over the next few years he created a new system of animal classification.
Things changed when Catherine II of Russia invited him to become a professor at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He led natural history expeditions, collecting specimens. He became a favourite of Catherine II and enjoyed her support for years. He finally returned to Berlin with the permission of Emperor Alexander, where he breathed his last in 1810.
Many birds and animals like Pallas’ leaf warbler, Pallas’ Glass Lizard, Pallas’ Viper, Pallas’ long-tongued bat have been name after him. The scientific names of some include his name, like Dagestani tortoise (Testudo graeca pallasi) and the Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) In 1722, a 680 kilo lump of metal was found near Krasnoyarsk. Pallas analysed it to be a new type of stony-iron meteorite. This type was name Pallasite after him. Streets in Berlin are named Pallasstraße after him. The city Pallasovka is named after him. In fact, the asteroid 21087 Petsimpallas is also named in his honour.
Taiga flycatcher or red-throated flycatcher (female) | Binomial name: Ficedula albicilla
I found this little migratory bird in a thoughtful mood in Sinhagad on one of my birding trips. Since this is the female of the species, it does not reflect the red throat. The species, itself was first described by Peter Simon Pallas, our friend from the story above, way back in 1811. The naming of streets, dams, bridges etc after politicians is nothing new for us in India. Thankfully there are those whose names are added to honour their sheer contribution, and not anything less.
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Kingdom: Animalia | Class: Aves | Order: Passeriformes | Family: Muscicapidae