Oswald Heer

Oswald Heer
Born (1809-08-31)31 August 1809
Nieder-Utzwyl, Switzerland
Died 27 September 1883(1883-09-27) (aged 74)
Awards Wollaston Medal (1874)
Royal Medal (1877)

Oswald Heer (or Oswald von Heer) (31 August 1809 – 27 September 1883), Swiss geologist and naturalist, was born at Niederuzwil in Canton of St. Gallen and died in Lausanne.


Oswald Heer was educated as a clergyman at Halle and took holy orders, and he also graduated as Doctor of Philosophy and medicine. Early in life his interest was aroused in entomology, on which subject he acquired special knowledge, and later he took up the study of plants and became one of the pioneers in paleobotany, distinguished for his researches on the Miocene flora.[1]

In 1851 Heer became professor of botany in the university of Zürich, and for some time he was the director of what is now the Old Botanical Garden in that city. He directed his attention to the Tertiary plants and insects of Switzerland. In 1863 (with William Pengelly, Phil. Trans., 1862) he investigated the plant-remains from the lignite-deposits of Bovey Tracey in Devon, regarding them as of Miocene age; but they are now classed as Eocene.[1]

Heer also reported on the Miocene flora of Arctic regions (fossil plant remains brought back from Northwest Greenland by K. J. V. Steenstrup), on the plants of the Pleistocene lignites of Dürnten, and on the cereals of some of the lake-dwellings (Die Pflanzen der Pfahlbauten, 1866).[1]

During a great part of his career Heer was hampered by slender means and ill-health, but his services to science were acknowledged in 1874 when the Geological Society of London awarded to him the Wollaston medal. He died at Lausanne on 27 September 1883.[1]

Heer published Flora Tertiaria Helvetiae (3 vols., 1855–1859); Die Urwelt der Schweiz (1865), and Flora fossilis Arctica (1868–1883) and with Eduard Heinrich Graeffe.[1] The cape Heerodden in Nordenskiöld Land on Spitsbergen is named after him.[2]


Heer published the following works:



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