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MUSEUM or OOMPAEATIVE ZOOLOGY.
8061 '12 Hrr Hfd
BULL. QEOL. 80C. AM.
VOL. 16. 1904. PL 90
Oi^^^^uU^ C. /icxfi^^-^^
[Pbom Boll. Oboj. 8oc. Am., Voj. 16, 1904]
MEMOIR OF CHARLB»SHltitaON BKBCHER*
BY CHABLBB toCMll€Bai«,1'
One of America's leading paleontologists, and a Fellow of this Society
«inc6 1889, in \he fullness of intellectual power, suddenly passed away od
February 14, 1904. Few men were better prepared for great results and
more promising of them for the next twenty years than Charles E.
Beecher. Dall has said :
*' There ifl no doubt that in the death of ProfesBor Beecher not only has Yale
■Qstained a aerioaa loss and paleontology a severe blow, but the ranks of those
capable of bringing to the study of fossils keen insight and a philosophical spirit
of enquiry, guided by principles whose value can hardly be exaggerated, are dimin-
ished by one whom science could ill afford to lose."
Like most successful students of organic life, Beecher was a bom natu-
ralist. As a boy of twelve years he began to make a collection of recent
diells and fossils, continuing to add to this for the next thirty years ; so
that, in 1899, he was able to present to Yale University, *' uncondition-
* Sketches of Beecher haTe appeared as follows : Yale Alumni Weekly, March 2, 1904, by Bash,
ChlttondeD, Schuehert, and ** a graduate studeat ; " Soieaoe, March 16, 1904, by Dall ; Amer. Natu-
ralist, June, 1904, by Jackson; Amer. Qeologist, July, 1904, by Clarke; Museums Jour., London,
April. 1904 : Oeol. Mag., London, June, 1904, by Woodward.
542 PROCEEDINGS OF THE PHILADELPHIA MEETING
ally," upward of 100,000 fossils. To the Albany Museum he gave his
entire collection of land and fresh-water shells, some 40,000 specimens.
In the field few excelled Beecher as a collector. To him more than to
any other we owe the present methods of washing clay for immature
invertebrates as well as of etching silicious fossils from limestone. The
Yale collections are rich in such delicate and well-preserved material.
Clarke, who often collected with him, stated that " he was the most dis-
criminating acquirer of the unusual, the exceptional, and the fine that it
was my fortune to know."
As a paleontologist he was trained in stratigraphy and in the descrip-
tion of species and genera, but latterly he took almost no direct interest in
this kiad of work. Often he told me that he wished all our fossils were
named. This is all the more remarkable because of his long association
with Hall and Marsh. The explanation seems to lie in the fact that his
philosophic bent did not come to full fruition until he had personally
met the philosophic American paleontologist, Alpheus Hyatt. From
that time his mind was absorbed in working out the ontogenetic stages
in fossil species and in tracing their genetic sequence through the geolog-
ical formations. To Beecher we owe the first natural classification of the
Brachiopoda and the Trilobita, based on the law of recapitulation and on
chronogenesis. He also gave a very philosophic account as to the origin
and significance of spines in pl^,nis and animals. On these works his
reputation in day^ to -come will chiefly rest.
Beecher was not only a bom naturalist, but also had much mechanical
ability. Nothing pleased him more than to free fossils from the sur-
rounding matrix, and his unexcelled talent in this direction is shown
in the preparations of Triarthrm and Trinucleiis in the Yale University
museum. More than 500 specimens have been prepared by him, and
this work has required peculiar skill, patience, ingenuity, and a great
deal of time. It is very unfortunate that he did not live to finish his
studies on the trilobites, but he left all the better specimens completely
worked out, and of most of them he had made photographs and drawings.
Charles Emerson Beecher, son of Moses and Emily D. Beecher, was
born in Dunkirk, New York, October 9, 1856. Not long after this date
his parents removed to Warren, Pennsylvania, where he prepared for
college at the high school, and was graduated from the University of
Michigan, receiving the degree of B. S. in 1878. The ten succeeding years
he served as an assistant to Professor James Hall. In 1888 he was invited
by Professor Marsh to remove to New Haven and to take charge of the
collections of invertebrate fossils in the Peabody Museum. His career
at) a teacher of geology began in 1891, when for two years he took charge
MKMOIR OP CHARLES BMKR80N BBBCHfSR 543
of Dana'8 classes at Yale, and in 1892 he was made Assistant Professor
of Historical Geology in the Sheffield Scientific School, serving in this
capacity until 1897, when he became Professor of Historical Geology and
ft member of the governing board in the Sheffield Scientific School. In
1899 ho succeeded the late Professor Marsh as curator of the geological
collections, and was made a member of and secretary to the board of
trustees of the museum. In 1902 his title was changed to that of Univer-
sity Professor of Paleontology. He was eminently succewsful as a teacher,
both with undergraduates and with advanced students, his enthusiasm
and kindliness of character at once arousing their interest and devotion.
Beecher received the degree of Ph. D. from Yale in 1889, his thesis be-
ing a memoir on the Ordovician Brachiospongidee. In 1899 he was elected
a fnember of the National Academy of Sciences and a foreign correspond-
ent of the Geological Society of London. In 1900 he was elected Presi-
dent of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, and filled this
office for two years. He was also a member of the American Association
of Conchologists, Geological Society of Washington, Boston Society of
Natural History, and Malacological Society of London.
Some time before Beecher was graduated from the University of Mich-
igan, the desire of his youth to follow as his life's work the study of fossils
became a conviction. The year before his graduation he is seen worship-
ping at the shrine at Albany, where many another ))aleontologist had
preceded him on the same errand. Clarke describes Beecher's introduc-
tion at Albany in the following interesting way :
*'0n a hot summer day in 1877, pale with weariness, he staggered with pack on
back into the laboratory of Professor James Hall at Albany. He had sought what
to him had seemed the foantainhead of knowledge of his fossils. It had been the
}]^1 of many a youthful dream to show to the author of the PaUorUology of New
York the treasures he had found. The great and keen-eyed Hall ever had an
appreciative reception for such endeavor. With the most friendly concern he
refreshed and nursed this acolyte, and, when strength had returned, expressed a
lively interest in his efforts and his ambitions. On going away Beecher had
promised to come back to Albany when his college course was done and join Hall's
corps of workers on paleontology. So, in the summer of I87d, the year of his grad-
uation, he became assistant to Professor Hall, entered upon his work, and was
received with genuine enthusiasm.''
Beginning with the summer of 1880 and continuing into 1883, he read,
according to a list still extant, more than 18,000 pages of standard liter-
ature. During the 10 years with Hall he assisted very largely in the
preparation of the Paleontology of New York, treating of the Lamelli-
branchiata, Gasteropoda, Cephalopoda, and Bryozoa; and to a less extent
op the volumes pertaining to the Pteropoda and corals. These were great
days of preparation and they bore most valuable frUit later on.
544 PROCCBOIMQB OP TBS PKXLADCLPUIA MMffTING
As to his meibodfl of invwtigmlion, Ckurke tajs :
'*A part of Mr Beecher's line nataral eqaipment for scientific research was hit
indomitable patience necessary to establish broad premises. His conchisions mum-
never hasty nor ever stated on merely one aspect of the evidence. All the aMfft
flir-readiinf and striking of his deductions in his later work, when his mind had
tamed chiefly to problems of bio^nesis, are known to his friends to be the reeolt
of tireless acquisitions of material and the focussing of light from every source. In
some quarters, his methods unknown, their results were not accepted ; they were
regarded as startling, as iconoclastic, and even unreliable.'*
Daring his bachelor days at New Haven he lived in " the attic," a
series of rooms fitted up in Bohemian style in old Sheffield Hall, with
Penfield, Pirsson, and Wells, all of whom are now full professors. After
the day's work the " attic philosophers " met here in delightful inter-
course, social and scientific, and it was here that during the late '80*s
and early 'OO's many pleasant acquaintances and recollections were ac-
quired with the young scientific men of this and other countries.
Beecher's first paleontologic paper was published by the Geological
Survey of Pennsylvania in 1884, when he was 28 years old. It treated
of new genera and species of Phyllocarida from the Devonian, a group
of rare Crustacea, most of which he found about his home. He was
always on the lookout for these rare fossils, and after securing many hun-
dred additional specimens he again returned to the subject, and in 1902,
in a paper published by the Geological Society of London, embodied all
that is known of the Upper Devonian Phyllocarida of Pennsylvania.
Beecher's first turn from stratigraphic paleontology to pure paleo-
biology and correlation had its origin in the brachiopods. Hall had as-
sembled some tons of the Silurian fossils occurring at Waldron, Indiana.
This collection contained many slabs, and as much loose clay adhered
to them, Beecher and Clarke night after night for an entire winter washed
this material ; eventually they together obtained about 50,000 specimens
of young brachiopods, among which were included every stage of develop-
ment of these shells. Their results were published in 1889 in a well-
illustrated paper entitled *' Development of some Silurian Brachiopods."
From a study of the nature of the pedicle opening, these authors con-
cluded that the '^ phylogenetic development tended in two main chan-
nels,'' and this arrangement foreshadowed two orders of brachiopods for
which Beecher later proposed the names Neotreinata and Telotremata.
My acquaintance with Beecher began in 1889, and at that time it was
evident that the paper just referred to was being considered with a better
understanding of what Hyatt's principles meant when applied to Brachi-
opoda. The very fact that nearly all the Waldron, Indiana, brachiopods
began with smooth shells having a subcircular outline led him to look
MSMOIR OF C£U.RL£S EMERSON BEECHER 545
for this early stage in other genera, but as no other young shells were
at hand, he resorted to a study of the beaks in well-preserved examples
of mature shells. In the spring of 1891 he announced that he had seen
the initial shdl in 15 families representing 40 genera.
A study of the stages of growth in many brachiopods, from the Cam-
brian to the living forms, enabled Beecher to show that the old classifica-
tions were not expressive of genetic relationship. He demonstrated that
on the basis of types of pedicle openings all brachiopods are naturally
grouped into four orders, of which two are without, and two possess hinge
teeth. The most primitive order (Dingula, etcetera) he named Atremata,
and this gave rise directly to the Telotremata (Rhynchonella, Terebraiuio,
etcetera). The Neotremata (Crania, Diacina, etcetera) also originated in
the Atremata. and from the former descended the Protremata (Stro-
phomenuy Prodiictus, etcetera).
In 1893 there was discovered in the Utica formation near Rome, New
York, a thin band in which nearly all the trilobites occur as pseudo-
morphs in iron pyrite and retain antennee and legs. Trilobites with legs
had been known before in two specimens and in four genera. Walcott
determined the presence of legs by slicing enrolled individuals. A ntennse,
however, had not been clearly made out until 1893, when their presence
was announced by Matthew in the August number of the American
Journal of Science. This discovery was of great value and promised
much toward a better understanding of the ventral anatomy of trilobites
and their systematic position among the Crustacea. Beecher was thus led
to visit the locality in 1893, when he took out several tons of shale ; since
then he has published fifteen papers on trilobites. Of these, three are
devoted to the larval stages, seven to the ventral anatomy, and five to the
classification and systematic position of these forms.
Beecher showed that in Triarthrus the entire series of thoracic legs are
biramous, one being setce-bearing and used for swimming and the other
without setae and used for crawling. The limbs of the pygidium overlap
each other, are much crowded, and are adapted for swimming or guiding
the animal, although they may also have served as egg-carriers. The
head has five pairs of appendages, four pairs of which are biramous and
closely resemble the thoracic legs.
He also observed that in the first or unsegmented stage of the most
IMriraitive trilobites there are neither dorsal free cheeks nor eyes, but that
in some of the later forms both the eyes and free cheeks have migrated
to the anterior margin or may even have progressed a little )>06teriorly
down the dorsal side of the first or unsegmented stage. This led him to
undertake a study of all trilobite genera, more than two hundred in
namber, and it was seen that these could be arranged in three groups or
54G PROCEKDINGS OF THK PHILADELPHIA MRKTJNG
orders on the basis of the nature and position of the free cheeks. These
orders he named Hypoparia, Opisthoparia, and Proparia.
In 1892 he became greatly interested in the significance of spines, ac-
cumulating data until 1898, when he presented his studies in a paper
entitled " The origin and significance of spines." This paper he regarded
as his best and most philosophic work. He found that all kinds of
spines in plants and animals can be arranged into eleven distinct cate-
gories. Further, that two generalizations result, as follows:
** That Bpiuoeity represents the limit of morphological variation, and, 8econd»
that it indicates the decline or paracme of vitality." . . . *• Finally it is evi-
dent that, after attaining the limit of spine differentiation, spinose organisms leave
no descendants, and also that out of spinose types no new types are developed." '
Beecher's standing among biologists and paleontologists was high ;
he was a leader among students of Brachiopoda and Trilobita, and Jack-
son has said that he ** became the leader of the Hyatt school." He had
the artist's gift, nearly all the drawings illustrating his various' papers
being made by himself and exhibiting a high order of merit. He was
a slow and very careful worker. Those who knew him well saw in him
an enthusiast, but his exuberance was always held in check by his judi-
cial qualities, which also made him an excellent counselor. He was
orderly in his work, and, as he had the ^^ museum instinct " well devel-
oped, he made one of the best of curators.
In 1894 Beecher married Mary Salome Galligan, of Warren, Pennsyl-
vania, who, with two daughters, survives him. He died very suddenly,
of angina pectoris, at his home, shortly after 1 o'clock on Sunday after-
noon, February 14, 1904. Up to about 11 o'clock of the same day, he
was in his usual health. He lies in Grove Street cemetery, in the shadow
of the Sheffield Scientific School.
The following bibliography includes Beecher's more important papers :*
1876. List of land and fresh-water shells found within a circuit of 4 miles about
Ann Arbor, Mich. [Walker and Beecher.] Proc, Ann Arbor Sci, Aaoe.^
1884. Ceratiocaridse from the Chemung and Waverly groups of Pennsylvania.
Second Oeol. Survey of Pennsylvania Report^ pp. 1-22, pis. i, ii.
1884. Some abnormal and pathologic forms of fi-esh-water shells from the vicinity
of Albany, N. Y. Ttdrty-iixth Ann. Report N. Y, State Mui. Nat. Hut,, pp.
51-56, pis. i, ii.
1880. A spiral bivalve shell from the Waverly group of Pennsylvania. Thirty-
ninth Ann, Report N, Y. Slate Mus. Nat, Hitt,, pp. 161-164, pi. xii.
* For a complete bibliography B«e Jaokton, in the American Naturalist, June, 1904, pages 411-4^
where 108 titles are cited.
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES EMKRSON BEECHBR 547
1888. Method of preparing for microscopical study the radulae of small species of
Gasteropoda. Jour. New York Mic, iSoc,, pp. 7-11.
1889. Brachiospongidse : A memoir on a group of Silurian sponges. Mem. Peabody
Afua.y Yale Univ., vol. ii, pp. 1-28, pis. i-iv.
I ^ 1889. The development ofsome Silurian Brachiopoda (with eight plates). [Beecher
\ and Clarke.] Meni. N. Y. State Mm., vol. i, pp. 1-95, pis. i-viii.
' 1890. On the development of the shell in the genus Tornoceras Hyatt. Am. Jour.
ISci. (3), vol. xl, pp. 71-75, pi. i.
1890. Koninckina and related genera. Ibid., vol. xl, pp. 211-219, pi. ii.
. ' 1891. The development of a paleozoic poriferous coral. Trans. Conn. Acad. Sci.,
vol. viii, pp. 207-214, pis. ix-xiii.
1891. Symmetrical cell development in the Favositidse. Ibid., pp. 215-220, pis.
1891. Development of the Brachiopoda. I. Introduction. Am. Jour. Sci. (S),\o\.
xli, pp. 343-457, pi. xvii.
1892. Development of the Brachiopoda. 11. Classification of the stages of growth
and decline. Ibid., vol. xliv, pp. 133-155, pi. i.
1893. Revision of the families of loop-bearing Brachiopoda. Tram. Conn. Acad.
Sci., vol. ix, pp. 37(i-391, pis. i, ii.
1893. The development of Terebratalia obsoleta Dall. Ibid., vol. ix, pp. 392-399,
pis. ii, iii.
1893. Development of the brachial supports in Dielasma and Zygospira. [Beecher
and Schuchert] Proc. Biol. Soc. Wcuhington, vol. viii, pp. 71-78, pi. x.
1893. Larval forms of Trilobites from the Ix)wer Helderberg group. Am. Jour. Sci.
(3), vol. xlvi, pp. 142-147, pi. ii.
1893. On the thoracic legs of Triarthrus. Ibid., vol. xlvi, pp. 367-370.
1894. On the mo<le of occurrence and the structure and development of Triarthrus
Becki. American Geologist, vol. xiii, pp. 38-43, pi. iii.
1894. The appendages of the pygidium of Triarthrus. Am. Jour. Sci. (3), vol.
xlvii, pp. 298-300, pi. vii.
1895. Further observations on the ventral structure of Triarthrus. Ameiicaji Qeolo-
gist, vol. XV, pp. 91-100, pis. iv, v.
1895. Structure and appendages of Trinucleua. Am. Jour. Sci. (3), vol. xlix, pi).
307-311, pi. iii.
1895. The larval stages of Trilobites. Ameincan Geologist, vol. xvi, pp. 166-197 »
I pis. vii-x.
! 1896. James D wight Dana. Ibid., vol. xvii, pp. 1-16, portrait, pi. i.
J 1896. The morphology of Triarthrus. Am. Jour. Sci. (4), vol. i, pp. 251-256, pi. viii
reprinted in Geological Magazine (London), dec. IV, vol. iii, pp. 193-197,
' pi. ix.
I 1897. Outline of a natural classification of the Trilobites. Am. Jour. Sci. (4), vol.
I iii, pp. 86-106, 181-207, pi. iii.
j 1897. The systematic position of the Trilobites. fKingsley and Beecher. J Ameri-
can Geologist, vol. xx, pp. 33-40.
fl897. Development of the Brachiopoda. III. Morphology of the Brachia. BuUeiin
87, U. S. Geol. Survey, chapter iv, pp. 105-112.
1898. Origin and sis^nificance of spines. Am. Jour. Sci. (4), vol. vi, pp. 1-20,
125-136, 249-268, 329-359, pi. i.
548 PHOCKKDINUS OF THE PHILADELPHIA MEETING
1899. Othniel Charles Marsh. Ibid,, toI. vii, pp. 403-428; the tame, abridged,
with alterations. BulL Oeol, Soe, Am,, voL 11, pp. 521-637, and American
Qgologistj voL xxiv, pp. 135-157.
1900. Trilobita. In Textbook of Palaeontology, by Karl A. von Zittel. Trans-
lated and edited by Charles R. Eastman. Vol. I, pp. 607-638.
1901. Studies in evolution : mainly reprints of occasional papers selected from the
publications of the laboratory of Invertebrate Paleontology, Peabody
Museum, Yale University. Pp. xxiii and 638, 34 plates. New York.
1901. Discovery of Eurypterid remains in the Cambrian of Missouri. Am. Jour.
Sci. (4), vol. xii, pp. 364-366, pi. vii.
1902. The ventral integument of Trilobites. /6t(i, vol. xiii, pp. 165-174, pis. ii-v.
1902. PalsDOzoic Phyllocarida from Pennsylvania. Quart. Jour, Qecl, Soe, London,
vol. Iviii, pp. 441-449, pis. xvii-xix.
1903. Observations on the genus Romingeria. Am. Jour. Sci. (4), vol. xvi, pp. 1-11,
1904. Extinction of species. Encyclopedia Anurieana, vol. xv, 4 pp.