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Emil Racovitza And A Shrimp


Driving along Palma’s Passeig Marítim, just after you pass Ca’n Barbarà, you’ll find the statue of an important looking guy on your right. The statue is in honour of Emil G. Racovitza, a scientist of quite some stature from Romania. In case you wondered what this monument is all about, read on.

Emil Racovitza conducted a number of expeditions during his lifetime and held several posts in a number of European scientific institutions, garnering some well-deserved fame as a scientist. He came to Mallorca for only three days in July 1904 during the course of a French oceanographic expedition, but he did leave an impression nevertheless. During his brief visit he was invited to visit the Covas del Drac, near Portocristo. In these caves, Monsieur Racovitza took samples of some of the organisms he found there. The following year he presented the description of a new and hitherto unknown species of a crustacean that he called Typhlocirolana moraguesi in homage to the naturalist Ferran Moragues, the owner of the Drach caves.

The discovery of this small shrimp-like creature turned the scientist’s attention to the study of cave animal life in general. The publication of his work Essai sûr les problèmes bioespéleologiques (1907) laid the foundations for biospeleology (the study of organisms that live in caves) as a separate scientific discipline.

In case you should be interested in seeing a crustacean of the Typhlocirolana moraguesi kind, you could see a photograph on the Internet.

On your next visit to the Cuevas del Drach you will find it somewhat hard to discover an as yet unknown species of whatever. Please don’t be surprised if a monument is not dedicated to you, here or anywhere.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 3rd, 2009. The time was 15:08:45.

1 reply »

  1. I liked your photoblog from Mallorca very much. A few days ago I was in Mallorca, for a week, staying in Peguera (1/2) from Palma. We rented a car to drive to Palma, and on the road parallel to the harbor, in the speed of the car movement I saw the sculpture you are talking about. I recognized the name of Emil Racovita (spelled in Romanian with a t with a comma under it), thus differently than on the sculpture. I am Romanian by origin and lived in Los Angeles for 36 years. I was with some friends from Romania in the car and I told them it must be “our Emil Racovita”. When we drove back to Peguera (again fast, no time to stop and take a picture) I read more of the text on the sculpture. It became obvious it was the Romanian Racovita I was thinking about. But why his sculpture in Mallorca? I was also able to read more of the text: founder of Biospeology. As two years ago I visited the Drac Caves and am well aware of the rich cave treasure that the island have because of the structure of the rock the island of Mallorca sits on, it became obvious that Racovita was there because of his interest in speology. Looking on the web I discovered that he was there for three days in 1904. Very long ago. Impressive how in those days important research was made. However, I did not have a picture of the sculpture, neither did I know the details of Racovita’s discovery of this special type of shrimp. Your blog revealed it all for me. A great pleasure. The text is well written, the pictures giving a good visualization of the issue. I plan to send a little note to a paper in Romania. Could I use your Racovita picture and give you credit as a photograph? Did you ask for permission from the El Mundo newspaper for the shrimp photo? Or can I just give credit to them? What date was the digital newspaper you took the shrimp picture from?

    Thank you for clarifying the things I wanted to know about Racovita’s sculpture in Mallorca. Congratulations on your good, well written, well documented. pleasant and entertaining blog. Keep on the good work.

    Best regards,

    Ileana Costea, Ph.D.
    Professor of Engineering, California State University, Northridge
    (but with broad interests: art, photography, history, travel)
    Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management (most of the material of my courses are hidden from the outside world and inside the authoring software for online teaching, WebCT)
    CSUN email address as a professor in the MSEM Dept.:

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