Thomas Morgan Essay

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Although known best for his studies in heredity with the small vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster (often called fruit fly), Morgan contributed significantly to descriptive and experimental embryology, cytology, and, to a lesser extent, evolutionary theory. In recog-nition of his work in establishing the chromosome theory of heredity (the idea that genes are located in a linear array on chromosomes), Morgan was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for 1933. The son of Charlton Hunt Morgan and the former Ellen Key Howard, Morgan came from two prominent family lines. His father had been American consul at Messina, Sicily, in the early 1860’s and had given assistance to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Red Shirts. John Hunt Morgan, Charlton’s brother, was a colonel and later general in the Confederate Army and leader of his own guerrilla band, “Morgan’s Raiders.” His mother’s maternal grandfather was Francis Scott Key. composer of the national anthem. As a boy Morgan spent much time roaming the hills and countryside of rural Kentucky. His visits to his mother’s family in western Maryland, provided the opportunity for further explorations during summers, and particularly for collecting fossils. He also worked for two summers in the Kentucky moun-tains with the U.S. Geological Survey. All of these activities gave Morgan an ease and familiarity with natural history which he retained throughout his life. Morgan entered the preparatory department of the State College of Kentucky in 1880 and, after two years, the college itself (now the University of Kentucky). In 1886 he received a B.S., summa cum laude, in zoology. While an undergraduate Morgan was particularly influenced toward science by one of his teachers, A. R. Crandall, a geologist, and an undergraduate friend, Joseph H. Kastle. Kastle graduated two years ahead of Morgan and went to Johns Hopkins

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