The ant collection at the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) turns 100 years this year.
The beginning of what has become a great legacy for ants studies is marked by the arrival at Harvard of William Morton Wheeler in the Fall of 1908 as the newly appointed professor of economic entomology. Two crucial things have turned this collection into the most important ant collection in the World. On the one hand a century of steady activity by a succession of prominent myrmecologists at the MCZ. On the other, myrmecologists world-wide voting with their types: the MCZ has become one of the classical repository for type material when describing new ant taxa. In addition, credit should be given to Stefan Cover, the "guardian angel" of the ant collection over the last few decades.
A centennial celebration dinner was held on May 28, as part of a meeting organized by the EOL and CBOL that brought together ant specialist from around the globe (and your lucky blogger that happens to be in town). Guests were treated to a nice meal while listening to a brief history of the MCZ given by the current Museum director James Hanken and an entertaining account of the early days in American myrmecology through W. M. Wheeler's illustrious career given by Edward O. Wilson. All topped off with a special cake covered with tasty crawling chocolate ants.
Phil Ward and Jack Longino
1. Evans, M.A., H.E. Evans. 1970. William Morton Wheeler, biologist. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 363 pp.