Émil Goeldi

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Émil August Goeldi
Goeldi Emilio Augusto 1859-1917.jpg
Born28 August 1859
Ennetbühl, Upper Toggenburg District,
Sankt Gallen, Switzerland
Died5 July 1917 (1917-07-06) (aged 57)
Alma materFriedrich Schiller Universität, Jena
Universität Leipzig
Known forReorganizer of Goeldi Museum
AwardsLife-Director of museum renamed for him
Scientific career
FieldsZoology, Archaeology, Public health
InstitutionsMuseu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil
Doctoral advisorErnst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel
Other academic advisorsKarl Georg Friedrich Rudolph Leuckart
InfluencesErnst Haeckel
InfluencedEmilie Snethlage
Author abbrev. (botany)Goeldi
Author abbrev. (zoology)Goeldi
Goeldi's legacy is the still-functioning Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi.

Émil August Goeldi (var. Göldi, var. Emílio Augusto Goeldi) (28 August 1859 – 5 July 1917 in Bern), was a Swiss-Brazilian naturalist and zoologist. He was the father of Oswaldo Goeldi, a noted Brazilian engraver and illustrator.


Goeldi studied zoology in Jena, Germany with Ernst Haeckel, and in 1884 he was invited by Ladislau de Souza Mello Netto, the influential director of the Brazilian Museu Imperial e Nacional, to work at that institution. Goeldi arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1885 to work in the National Museum (now the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. In May 1890, he was fired, due to political circumstances related to the proclamation of the republic and the exile of his principal benefactor, Emperor D. Pedro II.

He was then invited by the governor of the state of Pará, Lauro Sodré, to reorganize the Pará Museum of Natural History and Ethnography, in Belém, which had been founded in 1866 by Domingos Soares Ferreira Penna. He arrived on 9 June 1894 in Belém. In his pioneering work, Goeldi was helped by several other foreign researchers, such as the Swiss botanist Jacques Huber (1867–1914), zoologist Emilie Snethlage (1868–1929), geologists Friedrich Katzer (1861–1925), and Alexander Karl von Kraatz-Koschlau (1867–1900), and Adolpho Ducke (1876–1959), entomologist, ethnographer and botanist.

In 1902, the Museu Paraense de História Natural e Ethnography was renamed in his honour. It is now called the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. In 1905 Émil Goeldi renounced his post, due to ill health, and returned to Switzerland where he died in Bern, in 1917, at age 58. Hüber, then Snethlage and Ducke succeeded him as general directors of the Goeldi Museum in Belém.


Goeldi was primarily a zoologist and described many new Brazilian species of birds and mammals. Some of the species which bear his name are:

Several other species were named in honour of Émil Goeldi, such as:

In other scientific fields

Goeldi was also recognized as an important early figure in public health and epidemiology in Brazil, because he studied the mechanism of transmission of yellow fever and advocated the importance of fighting the mosquito as the vector of the disease, several years before Oswaldo Cruz did so. His extensive scientific research on the geography, geology, flora, fauna, archaeology, ethnography and socio-economical conditions of the present day region of Amapá was very important to end the Contestado territorial litigation between France and Brazil, ceding the territory to Brazil on 1 December 1900, by the international decision of the court of Bern.

Publications by Goeldi

  • Goeldi, E. A. (1886). Bericht über zwei ältere, unbekannt gebliebene illustrierte Manuskripte portugiesisch-brasilianischer Naturforscher. I. Die zoologischen Zeichnungen von Alexander Rodriguez Ferreira. II. Die zoologischen Zeichnungen von Arruda da Camara. Zoologische Jahrbücher, Jena, 2, 175-184
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1892). Zur Orientierung in der Spinnenfauna Brasiliens. Mitteilungen aus dem Osterlande (Neue Folge), 5, 200-248
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1897). A lenda amazônica do "cauré". Bol. Mus. Paraense, 2, 430-441
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1897). On the nesting of Cassicus persicus, Cassidrix oryzivora, Gymnomystax melanicterus and Todirostrum maculatum. Ibis, 7(3), 361-370
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1898 (1897)). A lenda amazônica do "cauré". Bol. Mus. Paraense, 2, 430-441
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1900). Sobre a nidificação do Cassicus persicus (japim), do Cassidix oryzivora (graúna), do Gymnomystax melanicterus (aritauá) e do Todirostrum maculatum (ferreirinho). Bol. Mus. Para. Hist. Nat. Ethnogr., (Mus. Para.), 3, 203-210
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1904). Against the destruction of white herons and red ibises on the lower Amazon, especially on the Island of Marajó(2 ed.). Belém: Pará
  • Geoldi, E. A. (1905). Myrmecologische Mitteilung das Wachsen des Pilzgartens von Atta cephalotes betreffend. Paper presented at the C.r. 6th Congr. Int. Zool., Berne
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1905). Beobachtungen über die erste Anlage einer neuen Kolonie von Atta cephalotes. Paper presented at the C.r. 6th Congr. Int. Zool., Berne
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1905). Os mosquitos do Pará. Reunião de quatro trabalhos sobre os mosquitos indígenas, principalmente as espécies que molestam o homem. Mem. Museu E. Goeldi, 4, 1-152
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1908 (1909)). Microtrogon novo nome genérico proposto para Trogon ramonianus Des Murs. Bol. Mus. Para. Hist. Nat. Ethnogr., (Mus. Pará), 5(1), 92-95
  • Goeldi, E. A. (1911). Der Ameisenstaat, seine Entstehung und seine Einrichtung, die Organisation der Arbeit und die Naturwunder seines Haushaltes. Leipzig & Berlin: Teubner


  • Struder, T. (1917). Professor Dr. Emil August Goeldi (1859–1917). Verhandlungen der schweizerischen naturforschenden Gesellschaft, Zürich 1917, 36-59
  • Papavero, N. (1973). Essays on the history of Neotropical dipterology, with special reference to collectors (1750-1905). São Paulo: Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo
  • Cunha, O. R. (1983). Emílio Augusto Goeldi (1859–1917). Ciência e Cultura, 35(12), 1965–1972
  1. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2013). The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians. Pelagic Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-907807-44-2.
  2. ^ IPNI.  Goeldi.

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