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The Wall of the Dead:

A Illustrated Memorial to Fallen Naturalists

Based on work by Richard Conniff

Nakano, Shigeru (1962-2000), aquatic ecologist studying food webs, died age 38, in Baja California on the same boat accident that killed the scorpion ecologist Gary Polis.

Anjeli Nathan

Nathan, Anjeli (1975-1999) killed, age 24, in a car accident in South Africa, where she was studying meerkats.

Natterer, Johann (1787–1843), Vienna-born zoologist, survived 18 years col­lecting in Brazil, but died at home, age 56, of pulmonary hemorrhage, while working up his extensive collection.

Nelson, David (17?? – 1789), British plant collector, botanist on Cook’s third voyage and Bligh’s “HMS Bounty” expedition, stayed with Bligh loyalists and survived for seven weeks crossing the Pacific in an open boat with little food or water.  On arrival in Kupang (Koepang), Timor, in present-day Indonesia, he went botanizing in nearby mountains despite his weakened condition. He came down with a fever and died there, age unknown. There is no record of his early life, or even the date of his birth. No portraits of him from life survive. The acanthus genus Nelsonia is named for him. Actor Simon Chandler portrayed him in the 1984 movie “The Bounty.”


Neme, Matthew Matamala (1984-2011), Universidad de los Andes biology student murdered, age 26, by the ring leader of a drug gang while filming and photographing the biodiversity of area known as “La Camaronera,” in San Bernardo de Viento, in Cordoba, Colombia.

Nevermann. William Heinrich (1881-1938), entomologist, killed, age 57, while hunting ants by lantern with a colleague at night in Costa Rica. He was shot by a neighbor who thought the lights of the two lanterns were the eyes of a puma.  (Obituary by Anon. 1938, Entomological News 49: 239-240.

Nikitine, Pavlik (1965-1992), a recent graduate of the Duke University School of the Environment, was working with Wildlife Conservation International to manage a wildlife preserve in Bolivia.  He died, age 27, in a plane crash in Costa Rica while traveling to a remote National Park.

Nikolaenko. Vitaly (1938-2003), zoologist at Kronotsky Nature Reserve, Kamchatka, and a world-famous nature photographer, killed, age 66, by a brown bear. He had conducted the investigation of the death by a brown bear of Michio Honshino.

Northrop, Alice Rich (1864‒1922) and Northrop, John Isaiah  (1861‒1891) were a married couple.  She taught botany at Hunter College, he taught botany and zoology at Columbia University. Soon after their marriage in 1889, they spent seven months in the Bahamas collecting animal, plant and mineral specimens, then the most extensive natural history survey undertaken there. John died in a laboratory explosion in 1891, age 30, just two weeks before the birth of their only child.  When Alice later finished her analysis of the botanical material from the Bahamas expedition, she found she had discovered 18 new species. A Naturalist in the Bahamas (1910) was a collection of John’s and Alice’s papers, edited by Henry Fairfield Osborn, and published under the names of  Osborn  and John (but, oddly, not Alice) Northrop.    She continued to travel widely in the Americas with their son, John Howard Northrop (1891‒1987), who would later win a Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1946).  Alice Northrop was working to establish a nature camp in Massachusetts when she died, age 56, after her car stalled on a level crossing and was hit by a train

Nove, Josh (1974-1997), a birder from Ipswich, MA, was leading Earthwatch volunteers on a mission to band Arctic Tern and Mew Gull chicks on Mother Goose Lake in the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the chicks bailed out of their nest into the glacial waters of Volcano Creek and Josh pursued them, likely worried about their safety.  He stepped into deep water and drowned, age 23.