By Bernard Verdcourt
For once my job has been done for me since Troyer (1991) has written an illuminating account of Moore who led the First and Second Tanganyika Expeditions to solve the ‘Tanganyika Problem’ – whether or not Lake Tanganyika was a former area of ocean cut off in Jurassic times, a theory at variance with the accepted geological wisdom that Africa had never been beneath the sea at any period remotely concerning animal evolution save for the immediate coastal areas. Moore collected much preserved material for dissection and ‘proved’ that the curious marine-looking molluscs in the lake had an anatomy closely similar to that of various marine species, and further that they were remarkably similar to certain Jurassic species. This was eventually shown to be erroneous although the presence of freshwater medusae and Polyzoa (which are undoubtedly related to marine species) was at one time considered strong evidence in support. I do not think Moore should be criticised; enthusiasm for an incorrect theory can produce as much valuable data as for a correct one and I am sure the anatomical differences between freshwater and marine prosobranchs can be very subtle. What should have been more evident to him was the basic geology of the Tanganyika basin.
Since the facts concerning Moore’s birth were about the only thing Troyer failed to ascertain, I spent some time trying to discover them. Troyer was certain the date of birth was 10 May 1870. In the relevant index at St Catherine’s House for March/June 1870 is an entry, John Edmund S. Moore in the District of Haslingden. I therefore obtained a copy of the full birth certificate to which this entry referred. John Edmund Sharrock Moore was born on 10 May 1870 at Higher Booths, Swinshaw, Rossendale, County of Lancaster, the son of Henry Moore, cotton spinner and Mary Elizabeth Moore (née Margerison). The Forest of Rossendale is about five miles south of Burnley and Swinshaw about midway between the two. Troyer gives the third Christian name as Shorec or Shorrock and thought the former was the original version. The certificate clearly gives Sharrock – the registrar’s o’s and a’s are particularly clear. The absolutely incredible gay abandon with which Moore treated names, particularly his own, easily explains these differences. He is often cited as Edward instead of Edmund, possibly due to the misreading of handwriting.
Moore spent at least one year at Tonbridge School and later studied at the Royal College of Science, mostly working under the aegis of G.B. Howes (1853–1905), the professor of Zoology (after whom Bathanalia howesi was named). Moore’s steady stream of publications finally gained him the Huxley Medal in 1900.
Between 16 October 1893 and 9 June 1894 Moore worked at the Zoological Station in Naples. He was leader of the First Tanganyika Expedition which thanks to Sir Edwin Ray Lankester (1847–1929) was supported by the Royal Society; it left England in the autumn of 1895 and returned in early 1897. A second more extensive expedition was undertaken between the spring of 1899 and the middle of 1900. During this expedition he also attempted the first ascent of one of the summits of the Ruwenzori Range which had been identified with Ptolemy’s ‘Mountains of the Moon’; he was in fact the first to reach the snowline in the range, attaining 14,900 feet and proved the existence of permanent glaciers. He does not appear to have collected on the range and was not, I think, interested in ‘natural history’ in that sense. He wrote a delightful and most readable book (Moore, 1901) illustrated with photographs, drawings and pleasant paintings of his own. The scientific account was not published until 1903 and gives in detail the evidence for his inland Jurassic sea theory.
Soon after he returned from the expedition he was appointed Demonstrator in Zoology and served as Acting Professor in 1903 and 1905 when Howes was in poor health. Howes died in February 1905 but Moore did not succeed to the professorship but moved to the University of Liverpool as Director of the Cancer Research Laboratories and in 1906 became Professor of Experimental and Pathological Cytology in that university. In 1904 Moore married Heloise Salvin, daughter of naturalist Osbert Salvin (1833–1898) (of Biologia Centrali-Americana fame). Curiously Moore suddenly stopped all scientific work in 1908, apparently after the death of his father, and gave up membership of various societies, e.g. the Royal Geographic Society, the Linnean Society and the Zoological Society. His retirement lasted nearly 40 years until he died of heart failure and arteriosclerosis in Penzance on 15 January 1947. For many years he lived at Tresco in the Scilly Isles. Oddly a biography of Moore continued to appear in Who’s Who until 1954.
Moore was well known for the cavalier way in which he misspelt the names even of his own genera and this extended to his own name. Troyer lists 15 alternative styles of address used by or attributed to Moore including several as Salvin-Moore or even Moore-Salvin.
Troyer lists 71 publications and presentations to Societies by Moore, all produced within the 17 years spanned by his scientific career. Unquestionably his main claim to fame is as co-publisher with Farmer of the term ‘meiosis’ for the process of reduction-division resulting in chromosome reduction. Initially this was spelt ‘maiosis’ although the Greek origin was clearly indicated and after a good deal of criticism from continental writers the correct orthography was adapted. He was also responsible for the term ‘synapsis’, still in use – or rather first used it as a biological term in 1892 (according to the QED which also states it had been used in 1654 with its ordinary Greek meaning of connection). I have selected from Troyer’s list all the publications dealing with molluscs.
Paramelania iridescens (J.E.S. Moore)
Paramelania iridescens (J.E.S. Moore)
I am grateful to F. Naggs for pointing out that the above types are in the general collection at the British Museum (Nat. Hist.)
Anyone wanting to know more about J.E.S. Moore must refer to Troyer’s excellent paper which deals exhaustively with his work and also his attitude to the native inhabitants of Africa giving illuminating quotations in numerous notes; Troyer discussed why Moore should have suddenly given up his work – most unusual in a biologist – but could offer no solution and it is unlikely we shall ever know.
Notes on dates of publications
Reference Moore 1899c listed above appeared in Troyer as 1898c but that part of Proc. malac. Soc. is dated March 1899. I have rechecked the order of 1898b and 1898d given by Pilsbry – Proc. R. Soc. 62; the part containing Moore’s paper was issued on March 29 1898, the date being given on the original cover and was received at the BM(NH) library on 1 April 1898, whereas the part of Q. Jl. microscop. Sci. 41 with the 1898d paper was not received at the BM until 16 April. There is no actual description of species in the Proc. R. Soc. paper but they are figured and article 12(b)(7) of the International Code makes clear the names are available even though accompanied merely by figures of the species. It is fortunate that the Proc. R. Soc. paper appeared first and is acceptable since in the Q. Jl. microscop. Sci. paper the genus Bathanalia is misspelt Batanalia; if that had been earlier an emendation to the now accepted and etymologically correct name would have to have been made
I have recently been sorting through about 25 years’ correspondence and finding many items I had forgotten about. One of these concerns J.E.S. Moore. Mrs N. McMillan pointed out to me that there was material from Lake Tanganyika in Liverpool Museum. Particularly interesting is material of Bythoceras minor with Fulton labels stating ‘e Smith Coll.’ and ‘1924’. This surely cannot refer to Edgar Smith who being a Museum employee would not have had a personal collection. Smith retired in 1913 but continued to have a room in the Museum until his death in 1916. There is similar material of Bythoceras iridescens and it is possible all these are syntypes. Other material at Liverpool is Tiphobia horei E.A. Sm. probably from the Salisbury Collection labelled as having been presented by Dr Günther (1830–1914) (Keeper of Zoology 1875–95) (possibly a syntype), Limnotrochus kirkii E.A. Sm. (i.e. Chytra kirkii) collected by Moore from the Stelfox collection, Tanganyicia rufofilosa E.A. Sm. collected by Moore, also from the Stelfox collection and further material of the same species from the Salisbury collection via the Dupuis collection. Mrs Rosena Down, Department of Biology, University College, London, suggested to me that some Imperial College material had been sent to the National Museum of Wales, and Dr M.B. Seddon, in answer to my enquiry, pointed out that there is a single shell of Bythoceras minor in the Melvill-Tomlin collection. Tomlin’s label gives the locality Tanganyika and the origin of the material is given as ‘Brit. Mus’. There are also six specimens of Bythoceras iridescens labelled by Tomlin but with no source indicated. All these specimens could be syntypes. Whether Moore sold some of his collection or gave some away is not known but it certainly did not all go to the BM.
J.E.S. Moore (The Tanganyika Problem: 130 (1903)) mentions only Planorbis sudanicus from Lake Edward which could not be confused with Biomphalaria smithi. It is curious that he did not deal with this species himself, or at least mention it. It also seems clear that Smith passed the material on to Preston to deal with.