Addison Emery Verrill (b. 1839, d. 1926) was born in Greenwood,
Maine. Early accounts chronicle his ability as a naturalist while he
was growing up in Norway, Maine, where his family moved in the early
1850s. Following his training under Louis Agassiz at Harvard
University, Verrill, only 25 years old, accepted a position as Yale
University’s first Professor of Zoology. Thus began a career spanning
more than 40 years teaching at Yale and serving as a curator at the
Yale Peabody Museum. His lifelong devotion to taxonomic research
resulted in the initial development of extensive collections at Yale in
a wide variety of taxa.
Remarkably, Verrill published more than 350 papers and monographs in his long career, and is credited with having described more than 1,000 species of animals in virtually every major taxon. A quick review of literally every major field guide to the invertebrates of the Atlantic coast, Bermuda, the Caribbean and the tropical eastern Pacific coast will reveal a wealth of Verrill’s species, which remain valid even after years of taxonomic revisions by subsequent researchers. A search of early Verrill publications documents his breadth of interests, which included parasitology, mineralogy and botany.
By any account, Verrill was considered an indefatigable worker; various biographies of him portray his incredible devotion to work, fueled by an almost inexhaustible stamina. He continued to publish large monographs well after his retirement in 1907 until his death in Santa Barbara, California, in 1926.
In 1959 the Yale Peabody Museum established the Addison Emery Verrill Medal in his honor.
Painting by John Henry Niemeyer, 1910.