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Edward Wilson, pioneer in evolutionary biology and Darwin 'heir', dies at 92

By Zarrin Ahmed
Edward Wilson, pioneer in evolutionary biology and Darwin 'heir', dies at 92
Wilson was a pioneer in evolutionary biology and taught at Harvard for nearly a half-century. He was renowned for studying insects, particularly ants, and examining the influence of natural selection on their behavior. He then applied the research to humans.  Photo courtesy E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Edward O. Wilson, an American naturalist who was often referred to as a modern-day Darwin and professor at Harvard, died at his Massachusetts home on Sunday. He was 92.

Wilson was a pioneer in evolutionary biology and taught at Harvard for nearly a half-century. He was renowned for studying insects, particularly ants, and examining the influence of natural selection on their behavior. He then applied the research to humans.

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The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation reported his death.

"Ed's holy grail was the sheer delight of the pursuit of knowledge. A relentless synthesizer of ideas, his courageous scientific focus and poetic voice transformed our way of understanding ourselves and our planet," foundation president Paula Ehrlich said in a statement.

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"His gift was a deep belief in people and our shared human resolve to save the natural world."

An honorary curator in entomology, Wilson also served as chairman of his foundation's board of advisers and chair of the Half-Earth Council.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner wrote more than 30 books and hundreds of scientific papers, and was the creator of two scientific disciplines including sociobiology and advances in global conservation. He also received more than 100 prizes for his work, including the National Medal of Science and Crafoord Prize.

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Wilson was referred to as "Darwin's natural heir" and was known as "the ant man" for his work as an entomologist, the foundation said.

"Beloved by his students throughout the world and at Harvard University where he taught, Dr. Wilson was also an adviser to the world's preeminent scientific and conservation organizations," it said in a statement.

"It would be hard to understate Ed's scientific achievements, but his impact extends to every facet of society," David Prend, chairman of the foundation's board, said in a statement.

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"He was a true visionary with a unique ability to inspire and galvanize."

Notable deaths of 2021

Betty White attends the media preview for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association's Beastly Ball fundraiser at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles on June 11, 2015. The actress died December 31. She was 99 years old. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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