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Prof. Ferdinand Richters

We performed a quite modest digital imaging experiment and inverted the gray scale of one of Ferdinand Richters' historical tardigrade illustrations. In our opinion those images easily outperform many modern SEM photomicrographs from the aesthetical point of view:

[ tardigrades (tardigrada)]

Illustration by Ferdinand Richters (1849 - 1914) showing the water bear "Macrobiotus ornatus var. spinifer", found in  Hypnum  mosses near Frankfurt, Germany. Body length 0.19 mm.
Drawing by Richters, published in 1900. Inverted image.

The name "Ferdinand Richters" ist virtually ubiquitous in the tardigrade literature of the early 20th century. But you will not find even a tiny mentioning of his name in modern encyclopedias. For this reason we will try to provide a little bit of micro justice and dedicate this issue to this man who took crisp tardigrade photomicrographs already in the time before the First World War and who produced illustrations that are equalled only by rather few later and some excellent modern authors.

May 1st, 1849 Ferdinand Richters is born in Hamburg, Germany. The father owns a small haulage enterprise.
1863 Aged 14 (!) Ferdinand Richters performs as a teacher at an elementary school.
ca. 1870 Abitur at the Johanneum in Hamburg.
until 1873 Studies in science at the universities of Göttingen and Heidelberg under the guidance of the famous scientists Wöhler, Kirchhoff and Bunsen.
June 1873 Ph.D. with the topic "Die Phyllosomen".
1873/1874 Assistant at the Zoological Institute of the Göttingen University.
ca. 1875 Move to Frankfurt/M., working as a teacher at the Wöhler School.
ca. 1875 Employment at the Senckenberg Society.
1886 Vice Director of the Senckenberg Society.
1889 First Director of the Senckenberg Society, and in parallel still teacher at the Wöhler School.
1897 - 1900 Serious disease.
starting from 1900 On recovery trips in the Taunus Mountains Richters is collecting mosses and gets fascinated by the tardigrades.
starting from 1900 Ferdinand Richters becomes the most famous tardiologist of his time in Germany. He is responsible for the tardigrade evaluation of the antarctic expedition by Drygalski. Numerous publications on tardigrades.
July 3, 1914 Ferdinand Richters dies.

We will not show the portrait photograph as presented in the obituary by A. Jassoy (see literature) but instead prefer to verbally quote that Ferdinand Richters "... was a tall, competent man who combined the outer appearance of a jovial ocean captain with the sympathetic innocence and friendliness of a child."

Ferdinand Richters was self-confident enough to join the group of scientists that became slightly emotional towards the tardigrades, e.g. stating:

"Very strange individuals can be found among them."

Of course at this time there was no need to fish for funding capital or to pretend a constant bella figura towards consultants and evaluators - a different situation from today's scenery in science.

Many new tardigrade species were discovered by Richters, among them the Diphascon species Diphascon stappersi, Diphascon recamieri, Diphascon belgicae and Diphascon spitzbergensis.
We take the opportunity to show one of those Diphascon tardigrades here. It came from a florist's decoration (which means that it might have been imported from any thinkable exotic country on earth).

[ Diphascon tardigrade (Tardigrada)]

Diphascon tardigrade (detail: genus defining flexible buccal tube), from a florist's moss decorated basket.

Ernst Marcus defines the Genus Diphascon as follows [translation from German]: "... between the contact point of the stylet supports at the buccal tube and the border to the pharynx the buccal tube is (prolonged and) flexible."

Ernst Marcus: Tardigrada, p. 294. Berlin 1936.

[ Diphascon tardigrade (Tardigrada)]

Diphascon tardigrade (detail: claws), same individual as above.

[ Diphascon tardigrade (Tardigrada)]

Diphascon tardigrade (detail: pharynx with characteristical linear macroplacoids), same individual as above.

We suggest to download an original publication by Richters, in full text, with fine photomicrographs   now and here  (5 MB). Afterwards you might have a look at a  Water Bear web base  photomicrograph of  Cornechiniscus cornutus , a really strange species which was discovered by Ferdinand Richters as well (cf. issues 26 to 28).

Source of biographical data:

A. Jassoy: Ferdinand Richters. Natur und Volk 46 (1916) 168 - 175.

Tardigrade publications by Ferdinand Richters, as compiled by Ernst Marcus, Bärtierchen, Jena 1928:

RICHTERS, F., Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Fauna der Umgegend von Frankfurt a. M., in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M. 1900, p. 21-44 Tab. 3-6, (Tardigr. p. 40-43, Tab. 6, Fig. 1-5), Frankfurt a. M. 1900.
RICHTERS, F., Die Tierwelt der Moosrasen [Sitzungsprotokoll], in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges., Frankfurt a. M. 1901, I. Teil, p. 100-103, Frankfurt a. M. 1901.
RICHTERS, F., Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Fauna der Umgebung von Frankfurt a. M. 1.Forts., in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M. 1902, p. 3-21 (Seitenzahlen des Sep.-Abdr.), 4 Fig., Tab. 1-2, Frankfurt a. 1W. 1902.
RICHTERS, F., Neue Moosbewohner, ibid., p. 23-26(Seitenzahlen des Sep.-Abdr.), Tab. 1-2, Frankfurt a. M. 1902.
RICHTERS, F., Nordische Tardigraden, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 27, Nr. 5, p. 168-172, 2 Fig., Leipzig 1903.
RICHTERS, F., Vorläufiger Bericht über die antarktische Moosfauna, in: Verhandlg. Deutsch. Zool. Ges. 1904, p. 236-239, 1904.
RICHTERS, F., Die Eier der Tardigraden (hierzu eine vorl. Mitteilg. in: Verh. Deutsch. Zool. Ges. 1903), in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M. 1904, p. 59-72, Tab. 4-5, Frankfurt a. M. 1904.
RICHTERS, F., Echiniscus conifer, ibid., p. 73-74, Tab. 5, Fig. 5, Frankfurt a. M. 1904.
RICHTERS, F., Arktische Tardigraden, in: Fauna arct., Bd. 3, p. 495-508, Tab. 15-16, Jena 1904.
RICHTERS, F., Beitrag zur Verbreitung der Tardigraden im südlichen Skandinavien und an der mecklenburgischen Küste, in: Zool. Anz., lid. 28, Nr. A-9, p. 347-352, Leipzig 1904.
RICHTERS, F., Isländische Tardigraden, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 28, Nr. 10, p. 373 - 377, Leipzig 1904.
RICHTERS, F.,123. Der kleine Wasserbär (Macrobiotus macronyx DUJ.), in: Prometheus, 16. Jahrg., 1. Vierteljahrsbd., Nr. 793, p. 198ff., Fig. 175-176, Berlin 1905.
RICHTERS, F., Wiederbelebungsversuche mit Tardigraden, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 30, Nr. 5, p. 125-127, Leipzig 1906.
RICHTERS, F., Eier und Eiablage der Bärtierchen (Tardigrada), in: Schr. naturwissensch. Ver. Schleswig-Holstein, Bd. 13, Heft 1, 3. Lieferung (1905), Sitz.-Ber. Jan. bis Nov. 1903, p. 207-208, Kiel 1906 [fehlt im Inh.- Verz. des Bds.]. 1925 [hierin p. 154, Literat.-Angaben über die Kälteversuche d. Verf.].
RICHTERS, F., Demonstration einiger Tardigraden und Copepoden, in: Verh. Deutsch. Zool. Ges. 1906, p. 269, Leipzig 1906.
RICHTERS, F., Zwei neue Echiniscus-Arten, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 31, Nt. 7, p. 197-202, 3 Fig., Leipzig 1907.
RICHTERS, F., Die Bärtierchen (Tardigraden), in: Mikrokosmos, Bd. 1, Heft 7, p. 53-57, Tab. 1-2, Stuttgart 1908.
RICHTERS, F., Die Fauna der Moosrasen des Gaußberges usw., in: Deutsch. Südp.-Exp., Bd. 9 (Zool. 1. Bd.), Heft 4 (1907), p. 259-302, Tab. 16-20, Berlin 190$.
RICHTERS, F., Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Moosfauna Australiens und der Inseln des Pazifischen Ozeans, in: Zool. Jahrb., Bd. 26, Syst., Heft 2, p. 196-213, 4 Fig., Tab. 17, Jena 1908.
RICHTERS, F., Marine Tardigraden, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 33, Nt. 2-3, p. 77-85, 4 Fig., Leipzig 1908.
RICHTERS, F., Moosfauna-Studien, in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M. 1908, p. 14-30, Tah. 1-2, Frankfurt a. M. 1908.
RICHTERS, F., Moosbewohner, in: Wiss. Ergebn. Schwed. Südp.-Exped., Bd. 6, Liefg. 2, p. 1-16, Tab. 1, Stockholm 1908.
RICHTERS, F., Tardigraden unter 77° südl. Br., in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 34, Nt. 18-19, p. 604-606, 3 Fig., Leipzig 1909.
RICHTERS, F., Marine Tardigraden, in: Verhandl. Deutsch. Zool. Ges. 1909 (19. Versammlg.), p. 84-94, 11 Fig., Tab. 3, Leipzig 1909.
RICHTERS, F., Tardigraden-Studien, in: Ber. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M. 1909, p. 28-45, Tah. 1-2, Frankfurt a. M. 1909.
RICHTERS, F., Tardigraden aus den Karpathen, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 36, Nr. 1, p. 7-10. 3 Fig., Leipzig 1910.
RICHTERS, F., Südamerikanische Tardigraden, in: Zool. Anz., Bd. 38, p. 273-277, 2 Fig., Leipzig 1911.
RICHTERS, F., Fauna der Moosrasen der Aru- und Keiinseln, in: Abh. Senckenberg. Naturf. Ges. Frankfurt a. M., Bd. 33, p. 373-380, 4 Fig. [Tardigrada p. 378-380], Frankfurt a. M. 1911.
RICHTERS, F., Moosfauna, in: KOENIG, A., Avifauna Spitzbergensis, p. 283-286 [alles Tardigr.], Fig. 1, Bonn 1911.
RICHTERS, F., Faune des Mousses, Tardigrades, in: Camp. arct. Duc d‘Orl. 1907, 20 p., Tab. 1-2, Bruxelles 1911.
RICHTERS, F., Tardigrada, in: Handwörterb. Naturw., Bd. 9, p. 1015-1020, 10 Fig., Jena 1913.
RICHTERS, F., u. KRUMBACH, TH., Tardigrada, in: KÜKENTHAL, W. u. KRUMBACH, TH., Handb. Zool., Bd. 3, p. 1-68, 68 Fig., Berlin u. Leipzig 1926.

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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