The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VIII. The Literature of Science

§ 49. Richard Owen

On the zoological side, one of the most productive morphological anatomists of the nineteenth century was Richard Owen, Hunterian professor and, later, conservator of the museum of the Royal college of Surgeons. In 1856, he became superintendent of the natural history branch of the British Museum, and this post he held until 1884. He added greatly to our knowledge of animal structure by his successful dissection of many rare forms, such as the pearly nautilus, limulus, lingula, apteryx and others, and, following on the lines of Cuvier, he was particularly successful in reconstructing extinct vertebrates. Another considerable advance he made in science was the introduction of the terms “homologous” and “analogous.” His successor in both his posts, Sir William Flower, an authority on cetacea and on mammals in general, took an active part in arranging the contents of the museums under his charge in such a way as to teach the intelligent public a lesson in morphology and classification.

Throughout the century, repeated attempts had been made to classify the members of the animal kingdom on a natural basis, but, until their anatomy and, indeed, their embryology had been sufficiently explored, these attempts proved somewhat vain. As late as 1869, Huxley classified sponges with Protozoa, Echinoderms with Scolecida and Tunicates with Polyzoa and Brachiopoda. By the middle of the century, much work had been done in sorting out the animal kingdom on a natural basis, and Vaughan Thompson had already shown that Flustra was not a hydroid, but a member of a new group which he named Polyzoa. Although hardly remembered now, he demonstrated, by tracing their development, that Cirripedia are not molluscs; he established the fact that they began life as free-swimming Crustacea; he, again, it was who showed that Pentacrinus is the larval form of the feather-star, Antedon.