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The Wall of the Dead:

A Illustrated Memorial to Fallen Naturalists

Based on work by Richard Conniff

Feilner, Capt. John (1830–1864), German-born ornithologist collecting for the Smithsonian Institution, surprised and killed, age 34, by Sioux while collecting ahead of his U.S. Army expedition in the Dakotas.



Felzien,Gregory (1965-1992), predator biologist, killed, age 26, by an avalanche in Yellowstone National Park while tracking mountain lions.  He was experienced at back country work but is said to have remarked, “If I ever have to die, I want it to be here in Yellowstone tracking cats.”

Field,  Andrew M. (1955-1984), an ecologist, fell from a tree, age 29, while conducting canopy research in Venezuela.

Fitzgerald, William Vincent (1867-1929), Australian botanist, mining expert, and explorer, died of blackwater fever, age 62, while searching for sandalwood in the Bismarck Range of New Guinea’s Central Highlands in 1929. He described Acacia and Eucalyptus species and collected for botanists Ferdinand Mueller and Joseph Maiden. He was also known through his excellent work on orchids.

Fitzner, Dick (1946-1992), wildlife ecologist with the Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, killed, age 47, in a plane crash while studying sage grouse for the Army in Yakima, Washington.

Fonseca, Rene Marcelo (1976–2004), Ecuadorian mammalogist, age 28, car accident.

Forbes, Charles Noyes (1883 – 1920), an American botanist, discovered a new species of cypress in San Diego County.  It’s now named Hesperocyparis forbesii in his honor. But he did most of his work in Hawaii, exploring the bogs, cliffs, mountain ranges, and valleys, and named 52 plant taxa. He and spent almost a month on a field trip in the summer of 1920, though he “was not a well man” to start with according to a colleague, Edwin H. Bryan, who accompanied him.  “It rained every one of the 26 days, at times continuously,” Bryan added, “weather not helpful to drying plants, catching insects, and living in a tent.” Forbes died, age 36, shortly after returning to Honolulu, of an unspecified cause.

Fornes, Abel (19??-1974), a self-taught Argentine mammalogist, died, age unknown, reportedly when his gas mask leaked as he was using hydrocyanic gas in a well to kill and collect bat specimens. His companion Elio Massoia named the Pygmy Rice Rat Oligoryzomys fornesi in his honor.

Forsskål, Pehr (1732–1763), Helsinki-born “apostle” of Linnaeus’s, age 31, of malaria in what is now Yemen.  See also Christian Carl Kramer.

Fossey, Dian (1932-1985), leading primatologist and conservationist studying mountain gorillas, found murdered in her cabin, age 53, in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda (case unsolved).

Franco, Roberto (1956-2014), a political scientist who worked with the Amazon Conservation Team-Colombia to identify isolated tribes and protect their habitat, died, age 62, when his flight crashed after takeoff from Araracuara in the department of Caquetá.

Franco-Rosselli, Maria del Pilar (1950-2000), Colombian botanist of the Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, specializing in the genus Cecropia, who was electrocuted, age 50, when the pole she used for collecting plants hit an electric wire hidden in the vegetation.

Frost,  Thomas M. (1950-2000), Univeristy of Wisconsin limnologist interested in ecosystems, plankton communities, rotifers, and freshwater sponges, died, age 50, in Lake Superior while saving his 9-year old son Eliot.