Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas was a German zoologist and botanist who worked in Russia.

Life and work

Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas
Simon Pallas
Simon Pallas was a German physician.Pallas was born in Berlin, where he remained through his life. He was professor of surgery at the Collegium medico-chirurgicum, and first surgeon at the Charité hospital...

. He studied with private tutors and took an interest in natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

, later attending the University of Halle and the University of Göttingen. In 1760, he moved to the University of Leiden and passed his doctor's degree at the age of nineteen.

Pallas traveled throughout the Netherlands and to London, improving his medical and surgical knowledge. He then settled at The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, and his new system of animal classification was praised by Georges Cuvier
Georges Cuvier
Georges Chrétien Léopold Dagobert Cuvier or Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier , known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist...

. Pallas wrote Miscellanea Zoologica (1766), which included descriptions of several vertebrates new to science which he had discovered in the Dutch museum collections. A planned voyage to southern Africa and the East Indies fell through when his father recalled him to Berlin. There, he began work on his Spicilegia Zoologica (1767-80).

In 1767, Pallas was invited by Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

 to became a professor at the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences and, between 1768 and 1774, he led an expedition to central Russian provinces
Central economic region
Central economic region is one of twelve economic regions of Russia.Area: 484,000 km²; population: 30.5 million . Average population density—63/km². Over 80% of the population is urban....

, Povolzhye, Urals, West Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, Altay
Altay Mountains
The Altai Mountains are a mountain range in East-Central Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together, and where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their sources. The Altai Mountains are known as the original locus of the speakers of Turkic as well as other members of the proposed...

 and Transbaikal
Transbaikal, Trans-Baikal, Transbaikalia , or Dauria is a mountainous region to the east of or "beyond" Lake Baikal in Russia. The alternative name, Dauria, is derived from the ethnonym of the Daur people. It stretches for almost 1000 km from north to south from the Patomskoye Plateau and North...

 collecting natural history specimens on their behalf. He explored the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

, the Ural
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

, Altai mountains and the upper Amur, reaching as far eastward as Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is the world's oldest at 30 million years old and deepest lake with an average depth of 744.4 metres.Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the...

. The regular reports which Pallas sent to St Petersburg were collected and published as Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reichs [Journey through various provinces of the Russian Empire] (3 vols., 1771-1776). They covered a wide range of topics, including geology and mineralogy, reports on the native peoples and their religions, and descriptions of new plants and animals. In 1776, Pallas was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...


Pallas settled in St Petersburg, becoming a favourite of Catherine II and teaching natural history to the Grand Dukes Alexander and Constantine. He was provided with the plants collected by other naturalists to compile the Flora Rossica (1784-1815), and started work on his Zoographica Rosso-Asiatica (1811-31). He also published an account of Johann Anton Güldenstädt
Johann Anton Güldenstädt
Johann Anton Güldenstädt was a Baltic German naturalist and explorer in Russian service....

's travels in the Caucasus. The Empress bought Pallas's large natural history collection for 2,000 roubles, 500 more than his asking price, and allowed him to keep them for life. During this period, Pallas helped plan the Mulovsky expedition
Mulovsky expedition
The Mulovsky expedition was a Russian naval expedition planned by Catherine II of Russia, to be led by Captain Grigory Ivanovich Mulovsky Григорiй Ивановичъ Муловскiй...

, which was cancelled in October 1787.

Between 1793 and 1794, Pallas led a second expedition to southern Russia, visiting the Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

 and the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. He was accompanied by his daughter (by his first wife who had died in 1782) and his new wife, an artist, servants and a military escort. In February 1793 they travelled to Saratov
-Modern Saratov:The Saratov region is highly industrialized, due in part to the rich in natural and industrial resources of the area. The region is also one of the more important and largest cultural and scientific centres in Russia...

 and then downriver to Volgograd
Volgograd , formerly called Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad is an important industrial city and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. It is long, north to south, situated on the western bank of the Volga River...

. They spent the spring exploring the country to the east, and in August travelled along the banks of the Caspian Sea and into the Caucasus mountains. In September they travelled to the Crimea, wintering in Simferol
-Russian Empire and Civil War:The city was renamed Simferopol in 1784 after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Russian Empire by Catherine II of Russia. The name Simferopol is derived from the Greek, Συμφερόπολις , translated as "the city of usefulness." In 1802, Simferopol became the...

. Pallas spent the spring of 1794 exploring to the southeast, and in July travelled up the valley of the Dnieper, arriving back in St Petersburg in September. Pallas gave his account of the journey in his P. S. Pallas Bemerkungen auf einer Reise in die Südlichen Statthalterschaften des Russischen Reichs (1799-1801). Catherine II gave him a large estate at Simferopol
-Russian Empire and Civil War:The city was renamed Simferopol in 1784 after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Russian Empire by Catherine II of Russia. The name Simferopol is derived from the Greek, Συμφερόπολις , translated as "the city of usefulness." In 1802, Simferopol became the...

, where Pallas lived until the death of his second wife in 1810. He was then granted permission to leave Russia by Emperor Alexander, and returned to Berlin, where he died in the following year. His grave is preserved in the Protestant Friedhof I der Jerusalems- und Neuen Kirchengemeinde (Cemetery No. I of the congregations of Jerusalem's Church
Jerusalem's Church
Jerusalem's Church is one of the churches of the Evangelical Congregation in the Friedrichstadt , a member of the Protestant umbrella organisation Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia. The present church building is located in Berlin, borough Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, in...

 and New Church
Deutscher Dom
Deutscher Dom is the colloquial naming for the New Church located in Berlin on the Gendarmenmarkt across from Französischer Dom . Its parish comprised the northern part of the then new quarter of Friedrichstadt, which until then belonged to the parish of the congregations of Jerusalem's Church...

) in Berlin-Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg, a part of the combined Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough located south of Mitte since 2001, is one of the best-known areas of Berlin...

, south of Hallesches Tor
Hallesches Tor (Berlin U-Bahn)
The underground station Hallesches Tor is part of the Berlin U-Bahn network at the intersection of the east-west bound U1 and the north-south bound U6 in the Kreuzberg district.-Overview:...



In 1772, Pallas was shown a 680 kilogram lump of metal which had been found near the city of Krasnoyarsk
Krasnoyarsk is a city and the administrative center of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located on the Yenisei River. It is the third largest city in Siberia, with the population of 973,891. Krasnoyarsk is an important junction of the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of Russia's largest producers of...

. Pallas arranged for it to be transported back to St Petersburg. Subsequent analysis of the metal showed that it was a new type of stony-iron meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

. This new type of meteorite was called Pallasite
A pallasite is a type of stony–iron meteorite.-Structure and composition:It consists of cm-sized olivine crystals of peridot quality in an iron-nickel matrix. Coarser metal areas develop Widmanstätten patterns upon etching...

 after him, whereas the meteorite itself is named Krasnojarsk
Krasnojarsk (meteorite)
-History:A mass of about 700 kg was detected in 1749 about 145 miles south of Krasnoyarsk. It was seen by P.S. Pallas in 1772 and then on his orders transported to Saint Petersburg....

or sometimes also called Pallas Iron (the name given to it by Ernst Chladni
Ernst Chladni
Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni was a German physicist and musician. His important works include research on vibrating plates and the calculation of the speed of sound for different gases. For this some call him the "Father of Acoustics"...

 in 1794).


A number of animals were described by Pallas, and his surname is included in their common names, including: Pallas's Cat, Pallas's Long-tongued Bat
Pallas's Long-tongued Bat
Pallas's Long-tongued Bat, Glossophaga soricina, is a South and Central American bat. It has the fastest metabolism ever recorded in a mammal, similar to those of hummingbirds...

, Pallas's Tube-nosed Fruit Bat
Pallas's Tube-nosed Fruit Bat
The Pallas's Tube-nosed Bat, Torresian Tube-nosed Bat or Northern Tube-nosed Bat , is a species of megabat in the Pteropodidae family. It is found in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.-References:...

, Pallas's Squirrel, Pallas's Warbler
Pallas's Warbler
The Pallas's Warbler or Pallas's Leaf Warbler is a leaf warbler which breeds in southern Siberia , northern Mongolia, and northeastern China...

, Pallas's Cormorant, Pallas's Fish-eagle, Pallas's Gull, Pallas's Sandgrouse
Pallas's Sandgrouse
The Pallas's Sandgrouse is a medium large bird in the sandgrouse family named after the German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas....

, Pallas's Rosefinch
Pallas's Rosefinch
The Pallas' Rosefinch is a species of bird in the finch family Fringillidae.It is found in China, Japan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Russia...

, and Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
The Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Locustella certhiola, is an Old World warbler in the grass warbler genus Locustella. It breeds in east Asia. It is migratory, wintering from India east to Indonesia....

. Also he is honored in the specific epithet of scientific names of animals described by others, including: Pallas's Pika (Ochotona pallasi) and Pallas's Reed Bunting (Emberiza pallasi).

Streets in Berlin and Castrop-Rauxel
-Geography:Castrop-Rauxel is between Dortmund to the east, Bochum , Herne , and to the north, Recklinghausen, Datteln and Waltrop.- Urban Area :The urban area of Castrop-Rauxel has an total expanse of...

 are named Pallasstraße. A city in Volgograd Oblast
Volgograd Oblast
Volgograd Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Volgograd. Population: -Geography:*Area: 113,900 km²;*Borders length: 2221,9 km²....

 is named after him - Pallasovka
Pallasovka is a town and the administrative center of Pallasovsky District of Volgograd Oblast, Russia, located on the Torgun River , northeast of Volgograd. Population: -History:...

 and his monument stands there. An asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 is named after him: 21087 Petsimpallas
21087 Petsimpallas
21087 Petsimpallas is a main-belt asteroid discovered on January 30, 1992 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory. It is named after botanist and zoologist Peter Simon Pallas....



  • Dissertatio inauguralis de infestis viventibus infra viventia (Leiden: Lugduni Batavorum, 1760).
  • Elenchus zoophytorum, sistens generum adumbrationes generaliores et specierum cognitarum succinctas descriptiones, cum selectis auctorum synonymis (The Hague: van Cleef, 1766).
  • Miscellanea zoologica, quibus novæ imprimis atque obscuræ animalum species describuntur et observationibus iconibusque illustrantur (The Hague, 1766).
  • Spicilegia zoologica (Berlin, 1767—1777).
  • Lyst der Plant-Dieren, bevattende de algemeene schetzen der geslachten en korte beschryvingen der bekende zoorten (Utrecht: van Paddenburg & van Schoonhoven, 1768).
  • De ossibus Sibiriae fossilibus, craniis praesertim Rhinocerotum atque Buffalorum, observationes (Novi Commentarii Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, XIII, Saint Petersburg, 1768).
  • Naturgeschichte merkwürdiger Thiere (Berlin, 1769—1778).
  • Dierkundig mengelwerk, in het welke de nieuwe of nog duistere zoorten van dieren, door naauwkeurige afbeeldingen, beschryvingen en verhandelingen opgehelderd worden (Utrecht: van Paddenburg & van Schoonhoven, 1770).
  • Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reichs (Saint Petersburg, 1771—1801).
  • Merkwürdigkeiten der Morduanen, Kasaken, Kalmücken, Kirgisen, Baschkiren etс., Frankfurt & Leipzig, 1773—1777, 3 voll.).
  • Puteshestviye po raznym provintsiyam Rossiyskogo gosudarstva (Saint Petersburg, 1773—1788).
  • Flora Rossica (Saint Petersburg, 1774—1788, in 2 parts).
  • Sammlungen historischer Nachrichten über die mongolischen Völkerschaften. St. Petersburg, Frankfurt, Leipzig 1776-1801.
  • Observations sur la formation des montagnes et sur les changements arrivés au Globe, particulièrement à l’Empire de Russie (Acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, Saint Petersburg, 1777).
  • Novae species Quadrupedum e Glirium ordine (Erlangen, 1778).
  • Mémoires sur la variation des animaux (Acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, Saint Petersburg, 1780).
  • Katalog rasteniyam, nakhodyashchimsya v Moskve v sadu yego prevoskhoditel'stva deystvitel'snogo statskogo sovetnika i Imperatorskogo Vopitatel'nogo doma znamenitogo blagodetelya, Prokofiya Akinfiyevich Demidova, sochinyonnyy P. S. Pallasom, adademikom sankt-peterburgskim (Saint Petersburg, 1781).
  • Icones Insectorum praesertim Rossiae Sibiriaeque peculiarium (Erlangen, 1781—1806, in 4 issues).
  • Opisaniye rasteniy Rossiyskogo gosudarstva, s ikh izobrazheniyami (Saint Petersburg, 1786).
  • Sravnitel'nyye slovari vsekh yazykov i narechiy, sobrannyye desnitsey Vsevysochayshey osoby imperatritsy Yekateriny II (Saint Petersburg, 1787—1789, in 2 volumes).
  • Tableau physique et topographique de la Tauride (Nova Acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, X, Saint Petersburg, 1792).
  • Kratkoye fizicheskoye i topograficheskoye opisaniye Tavricheskoy oblasti (Saint Petersburg, 1795).
  • Bemerkungen auf einer Reise in die südlichen Statthalterschaften des Rußischen Reichs in den Jahren 1793 und 1794 (Leipzig, 1799—1801)
  • Species Astragalorum descriptae et iconibus coloratis illustratae (Leipzig, 1800).
  • Travels through the southern provinces of the Russian Empire (London, 1802, in 2 volumes).
  • Illustrationes plantarum imperfecte vel nondum cognitarum (Leipzig, 1803).
  • Zoographia rosso-asiatica (Saint Petersburg, 1811, in 3 volumes).

External links

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