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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index O > Sir Richard Owen Quotes

Thumbnail of Sir Richard Owen (source)
Sir Richard Owen
(20 Jul 1804 - 18 Dec 1892)

English zoologist, anatomist and palaeontologist who made reconstructions of many prehistoric animals and birds, coined the word dinosaur, and was responsible for establishing South Kensington building for the British Natural History Museum.


Science Quotes by Sir Richard Owen (13 quotes)

Photo of Richard Owen, seated, upper body, facing slightly right
Portrait of Richard Owen by Thomas Herbert Maguire (1850) (source)
According to my derivative hypothesis, a change takes place first in the structure of the animal, and this, when sufficiently advanced, may lead to modifications of habits… . “Derivation” holds that every species changes, in time, by virtue of inherent tendencies thereto. “Natural Selection” holds that no such change can take place without the influence of altered external circumstances educing or selecting such change… . The hypothesis of “natural selection” totters on the extension of a conjectural condition, explanatory of extinction to the majority of organisms, and not known or observed to apply to the origin of any species.
— Sir Richard Owen
In On the Anatomy of Vertebrates (1868), Vol. 3, 808.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Change (291)  |  Circumstance (48)  |  Condition (119)  |  Conjecture (22)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Explanation (161)  |  External (45)  |  Extinction (55)  |  Habit (78)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Majority (32)  |  Modification (31)  |  Natural Selection (79)  |  Organism (126)  |  Origin (77)  |  Species (181)  |  Structure (191)

Analogue. A part or organ in one animal which has the same function as another part or organ in a different animal.
— Sir Richard Owen
'Glossary', Lectures on the Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of the Invertebrate Animals Delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1843 (1843), 374.
Science quotes on:  |  Analogue (4)  |  Animal (309)  |  Difference (208)  |  Function (90)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Organ (60)  |  Part (146)

Homologue. The same organ in different animals under every variety of form and function.
— Sir Richard Owen
'Glossary', Lectures on the Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of the Invertebrate Animals Delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1843 (1843), 379.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (309)  |  Difference (208)  |  Form (210)  |  Function (90)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Organ (60)  |  Same (92)  |  Variation (50)

In Man the brain presents an ascensive step in development, higher and more strongly marked than that by which the preceding subclass was distinguished from the one below it. Not only do the cerebral hemispheres overlap the olfactory lobes and cerebellum, but they extend in advance of the one, and further back than the other. Their posterior development is so marked, that anatomists have assigned to that part the character of a third lobe; it is peculiar to the genus Homo, and equally peculiar is the 'posterior horn of the lateral ventricle,' and the 'hippocampus minor,' which characterize the hind lobe of each hemisphere. The superficial grey matter of the cerebrum, through the number and depth of the convolutions, attains its maximum of extent in Man. Peculiar mental powers are associated with this highest form of brain, and their consequences wonderfully illustrate the value of the cerebral character; according to my estimate of which, I am led to regard the genus Homo, as not merely a representative of a distinct order, but of a distinct subclass of the Mammalia, for which I propose a name of 'ARCHENCEPHALA.'
— Sir Richard Owen
'On the Characters, Principles of Division, and Primary Groups of the Class MAMMALIA' (1857), Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (1858), 2, 19-20.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomist (14)  |  Ascent (5)  |  Attainment (35)  |  Brain (181)  |  Cerebellum (2)  |  Cerebrum (6)  |  Character (82)  |  Characterization (7)  |  Class (64)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Development (228)  |  Estimation (7)  |  Extent (30)  |  Genus (16)  |  Grey (6)  |  Hemisphere (4)  |  Horn (10)  |  Illustration (24)  |  Lateral (3)  |  Mammal (28)  |  Man (345)  |  Matter (270)  |  Mind (544)  |  Olfactory (2)  |  Order (167)  |  Overlap (4)  |  Peculiarity (15)  |  Posterior (3)  |  Step (67)  |  Superficiality (2)  |  Value (180)  |  Ventricle (5)

In the endeavor to clearly comprehend and explain the functions of the combination of forces called “brain,” the physiologist is hindered and troubled by the views of the nature of those cerebral forces which the needs of dogmatic theology have imposed on mankind.
— Sir Richard Owen
In 'General Conclusions, Anatomy of the Vertebrates (1868, 2011), Vol. 3, Chap 40, 823. Excerpt in Noah Porter (ed.), Half Hours with Modern Scientists (1872), 71.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (181)  |  Comprehend (19)  |  Dogma (25)  |  Explain (61)  |  Impose (17)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Physiologist (12)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Theology (35)

More species of true turtle have left their remains in the London clay at the mouth of the Thames than are now known to exist in the whole world.
— Sir Richard Owen
In article 'Palæontology' contributed to Encyclopædia Britannica (8th ed., 1859), Vol. 17, 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Clay (9)  |  London (12)  |  Mouth (16)  |  Remains (9)  |  Species (181)  |  Thames (4)  |  Turtle (7)  |  World (667)

No collateral science had profited so much by palæontology as that which teaches the structure and mode of formation of the earth’s crust, with the relative position, time, and order of formation of its constituent stratified and unstratified parts. Geology has left her old hand-maiden mineralogy to rest almost wholly on the broad shoulders of her young and vigorous offspring, the science of organic remains.
— Sir Richard Owen
In article 'Palæontology' contributed to Encyclopædia Britannica (8th ed., 1859), Vol. 17, 91.
Science quotes on:  |  Broad (18)  |  Collateral (3)  |  Constituent (13)  |  Crust (17)  |  Earth (487)  |  Formation (54)  |  Geology (187)  |  Mineralogy (15)  |  Mode (29)  |  Offspring (15)  |  Order (167)  |  Organic (48)  |  Paleontology (29)  |  Position (54)  |  Profit (28)  |  Relative (24)  |  Remains (9)  |  Rest (64)  |  Science (1699)  |  Shoulder (13)  |  Structure (191)  |  Teach (102)  |  Time (439)  |  Vigorous (11)  |  Young (72)

No creature is too bulky or formidable for man's destructive energies—none too minute and insignificant for his keen detection and skill of capture. It was ordained from the beginning that we should be the masters and subduers of all inferior animals. Let us remember, however, that we ourselves, like the creatures we slay, subjugate, and modify, are the results of the same Almighty creative will—temporary sojourners here, and co-tenants with the worm and the whale of one small planet. In the exercise, therefore, of those superior powers that have been intrusted to us, let us ever bear in mind that our responsibilities are heightened in proportion.
— Sir Richard Owen
Lecture to the London Society of Arts, 'The Raw Materials of the Animal Kingdom', collected in Lectures on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851' (1852), 131.
Science quotes on:  |  Almighty (8)  |  Animal (309)  |  Beginning (114)  |  Bulk (5)  |  Capture (8)  |  Conservation (139)  |  Creative (41)  |  Creature (127)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Detection (12)  |  Energy (185)  |  Formidable (6)  |  Inferior (14)  |  Insignificant (11)  |  Keen (8)  |  Man (345)  |  Master (55)  |  Minute (25)  |  Modify (11)  |  Ordained (2)  |  Planet (199)  |  Remember (53)  |  Responsibility (47)  |  Result (250)  |  Skill (50)  |  Slaying (2)  |  Subdue (5)  |  Superior (30)  |  Temporary (13)  |  Tenant (2)  |  Whale (21)  |  Worm (25)

The Archetypal idea was manifested in the flesh, under divers such modifications, upon this planet, long prior to the existence of those animal species that actually exemplify it. To what natural laws or secondary causes the orderly succession and progression of such organic phaenomena may have been committed we as yet are ignorant. But if, without derogation of the Divine power, we may conceive the existence of such ministers, and personify them by the term 'Nature,' we learn from the past history of our globe that she has advanced with slow and stately steps, guided by the archetypal light, amidst the wreck of worlds, from the first embodiment of the Vertebrate idea under its old Ichthyic vestment, until it became arrayed in the glorious garb of the Human form.
— Sir Richard Owen
On the Nature of Limbs (1849), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Advancement (36)  |  Animal (309)  |  Archetype (4)  |  Array (5)  |  Cause (231)  |  Commitment (11)  |  Conception (63)  |  Divine (42)  |  Embodiment (5)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Example (57)  |  Existence (254)  |  Garb (2)  |  Globe (39)  |  Glory (44)  |  History (302)  |  Human (445)  |  Idea (440)  |  Ignorance (190)  |  Learning (174)  |  Manifestation (30)  |  Minister (6)  |  Natural Law (26)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Orderly (6)  |  Organic (48)  |  Past (109)  |  Personification (3)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Progression (9)  |  Secondary (11)  |  Slow (36)  |  Species (181)  |  Stately (6)  |  Step (67)  |  Succession (39)  |  Term (87)  |  Vertebrate (13)  |  Wreck (7)

The combination of such characters, some, as the sacral ones, altogether peculiar among Reptiles, others borrowed, as it were, from groups now distinct from each other, and all manifested by creatures far surpassing in size the largest of existing reptiles, will, it is presumed, be deemed sufficient ground for establishing a distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria.
— Sir Richard Owen
'Report on British Fossil Reptiles', Report of the Eleventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1842), 103.
Science quotes on:  |  Borrowing (4)  |  Character (82)  |  Combination (69)  |  Creature (127)  |  Deem (2)  |  Dinosaur (23)  |  Distinct (29)  |  Distinction (37)  |  Establishment (29)  |  Existence (254)  |  Group (52)  |  Largest (7)  |  Manifestation (30)  |  Nomenclature (129)  |  Order (167)  |  Peculiarity (15)  |  Presume (5)  |  Proposition (47)  |  Reptile (23)  |  Saurian (2)  |  Size (47)  |  Sufficiency (13)  |  Surpass (12)  |  Tribe (10)

The invertebrated classes include the most numerous and diversified forms of the Animal Kingdom. At the very beginning of our inquiries into their vital powers and acts we are impressed with their important relations to the maintenance of life and organization on this planet, and their influence in purifying the sea and augmenting and enriching the land—relations of which the physiologist conversant only with the vertebrated animals must have remained ignorant.
— Sir Richard Owen
In Lecture, delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons, collected in Lecture 24, 'Cephalopoda', Lectures on the Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of the Invertebrate Animals (1843), Vol. 1, 362.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal Kingdom (9)  |  Beginning (114)  |  Class (64)  |  Conversant (4)  |  Diversified (2)  |  Enriching (2)  |  Form (210)  |  Ignorant (27)  |  Importance (183)  |  Impressed (10)  |  Influence (110)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  Invertebrate (3)  |  Land (83)  |  Life (917)  |  Maintenance (13)  |  Organization (79)  |  Physiologist (12)  |  Planet (199)  |  Power (273)  |  Purifying (2)  |  Relation (96)  |  Sea (143)  |  Vertebrate (13)  |  Vital (32)

The laws of Coexistence;—the adaptation of structure to function; and to a certain extent the elucidation of natural affinities may be legitimately founded upon the examination of fully developed species;—But to obtain an insight into the laws of development,—the signification or bedeutung, of the parts of an animal body demands a patient examination of the successive stages of their development, in every group of Animals.
— Sir Richard Owen
'Lecture Four, 9 May 1837', The Hunterian Lectures in Comparative Anatomy, May-June 1837, ed. Phillip Reid Sloan (1992), 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (40)  |  Affinity (11)  |  Development (228)  |  Elucidation (6)  |  Examination (60)  |  Foundation (75)  |  Function (90)  |  Law (418)  |  Legitimacy (4)  |  Natural (128)  |  Significance (60)  |  Structure (191)

The steam-engine in its manifold applications, the crime-decreasing gas-lamp, the lightning conductor, the electric telegraph, the law of storms and rules for the mariner's guidance in them, the power of rendering surgical operations painless, the measures for preserving public health, and for preventing or mitigating epidemics,—such are among the more important practical results of pure scientific research, with which mankind have been blessed and States enriched.
— Sir Richard Owen
President's Address to the British Association, Leeds (1858). In Charles W. Vincent and James Mason (eds.), The Year-book of Facts in Science and Art (1859), title page.
Science quotes on:  |  Anesthetic (3)  |  Application (117)  |  Crime (20)  |  Epidemic (6)  |  Gas Lamp (2)  |  Law (418)  |  Manifold (7)  |  Mariner (7)  |  Pain (82)  |  Practical (93)  |  Public Health (5)  |  Research (517)  |  Result (250)  |  Rule (135)  |  Steam Engine (41)  |  Surgery (39)  |  Telegraph (31)



Quotes by others about Sir Richard Owen (2)

And no one has the right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which nobody ever did, or perhaps will ever do. But surely [if one were caught] ... they would have put it into spirits, or into the Illustrated News, or perhaps cut it into two halves, poor dear little thing, and sent one to Professor Owen, and one to Professor Huxley, to see what they would each say about it.
The Water-babies (1886), 79-80.
Science quotes on:  |  Evolution (482)  |  Thomas Henry Huxley (119)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Proof (192)

You must not say that this cannot be, or that that is contrary to nature. You do not know what Nature is, or what she can do; and nobody knows; not even Sir Roderick Murchison, or Professor Huxley, or Mr. Darwin, or Professor Faraday, or Mr. Grove, or any other of the great men whom good boys are taught to respect. They are very wise men; and you must listen respectfully to all they say: but even if they should say, which I am sure they never would, 'That cannot exist. That is contrary to nature,' you must wait a little, and see; for perhaps even they may be wrong.
The Water-babies (1886), 81.
Science quotes on:  |  Charles Darwin (284)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Michael Faraday (74)  |  Sir William Robert Grove (2)  |  Thomas Henry Huxley (119)  |  Hypothesis (227)  |  Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (9)  |  Proof (192)


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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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