Clive Forster-Cooper 1880- .These two expeditions showed Forster-Cooper’s great gifts as a traveller

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  • CLIVE FORSTER-COOPER

    1880-1947

    Clive Forster-C ooper was born in a house in Finchley Road, Hampstead, London, on 3 April 1880. He was the second child and only son of John Forster- Cooper and his wife Mary.

    John Forster-Cooper was a solicitor, whose descent in the male line can be traced back to 1427 and probably to 1327. The family was always associated with Wiltshire, owning land in Ablington and Upper and Lower Netheravon. Throughout the eighteenth century they lived in Salisbury, two members being aldermen and one mayor of that city, the latter knowing Goldsmith and Dr Johnson. They were solicitors, barristers and clergymen, in essence a typical family of country gentlemen.

    Forster-Coopers mother was a daughter of Miles Miley and his wife, Catharine Fargues, daughter of Pierre de la Fargues, a French Huguenot of Normandy.

    Miles Miley was an amateur botanist and naturalist, who seems to have encouraged Clive Forster-Cooper in his interest in natural history.

    Clive Forster-Cooper received his education at a private school (Summer- fields, Oxford) and from 1894-1897 at Rugby. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of seventeen, the Rev R. St J. Parry being his tutor and Adam Sedgwick his supervisor.

    He read zoology, physiology and geology for Part I of the Tripos, but, as he records, at the beginning of his second year J. Stanley Gardiner came up to him as he was dissecting in the laboratory and asked him if he would accompany him on an expedition to the Maidive Islands. At that time it was customary to spend three years in preparation for Part I of the Tripos, so that Forster-Cooper had to complete his preparation and sit the examination in five months instead of the two sessions he had expected. In consequence he got Class III at the age of nineteen.

    Shortly after his Tripos, Forster-Cooper met Stanley Gardiner in Ceylon and went with him to Male, the capital and seat of the Sultan of the Maldives, where they set up the base of the expedition on 23 October 1899.

    The expedition was lent a small native schooner of sixteen tons and a very friendly crew of twenty native Maldivans by the Sultan. With this boat the expedition travelled throughout the whole group of islands, dredging and sounding, making great collections and studying the mode of formation of coral reefs.

    During this expedition Stanley Gardiner contracted malaria and was forced3

  • to return to Colombo for treatment, leaving Forster-Cooper, then aged twenty, to travel on in the schooner and add to the records and collections.

    Collecting on a coral reef is a most strenuous business; it is extremely rough and difficult to get about on, and to collect one must be constantly in and out of the sea; the fauna is immense in actual numbers of animals and in their variety so that you have to be constantly on the alert. In the evening there is the labelling and writing up of records. Add to this responsibility for an expedition with a ship and twenty men. Thus, before he came of age, Forster-Cooper had shown his self-reliance and toughness.

    Forster-Cooper returned to Cambridge towards the end of 1900 to take Part II of the Tripos. At that time it was usual to take two subjects in this examination, but as a special privilege he was allowed to present zoology alone, with the proviso that Class I would be ruled out. He thus graduated in 1901 with a second class.

    In 1902-1903 Forster-Cooper was a naturalist to the International North Seas Fisheries Commission, spending most of his time on the Commissions trawler at sea. He then returned to Cambridge, working there on materials collected in the Maldives.

    In 1905 Forster-Cooper joined the Percy Sladen expedition to the Indian Ocean, under Stanley Gardiner. This expedition was carried out by H.M.S. Sealark, a survey ship officered by the Royal Navy. This ship made many deep soundings on her voyage from Colombo to Addu in the Maldives, thence to Mauritius and north to the Seychelles. Forster-Cooper was responsible for the dredging carried out by the ship, and finally joined in two months collecting of the land fauna and flora of the Seychelles.

    On his return to Cambridge in 1906, Forster-Cooper continued his work on the collections made on the two Indian Ocean expeditions, but in 1907 he met Dr C. W. Andrews in the British Museum of Natural History and became interested in fossil mammals, especially in the history of the elephant, to which Andrews had then recently made such important additions. To learn more of such matters he joined Dr Andrews collecting expedition to the Fayum in the winter of 1907, thus learning the technique of living and travelling in the desert and the modes of collecting fossil bones.

    Forster-Cooper, becoming more and more interested in vertebrate palaeontology, soon realized that the collections of fossil mammals in America vastly exceeded in quality as well as quantity those in the museums of Europe and went to the American Museum of Natural History, New York, to work under H. F. Osborn, who was then Professor of Zoology in Columbia University as well as Curator in the Museum.

    Forster-Cooper spent a year in America in close association with Osborn, Matthew, Granger and W. K. Gregory, studying the vast collections of fossil mammals, and, by taking part in one of Grangers collecting expeditions to Wyoming, learning more about the actual occurrence of fossil mammals and the way in which their bones could be dug out and carried safely to a museum.

    84 Obituary Notices

  • Clive Forster-Cooper * 85In 1910 he came back to Cambridge and immediately organized an expedition

    to the Bugti beds of Baluchistan, which lie north of the Sind frontier. These beds had recently been visited by Dr Pilgrim of the Geological Survey of India, who had made, and subsequently described, collections which showed that they contained a large mammalian fauna. Forster-Coopers first expedition was most successful. He got new and much better collections, and he immediately organized a second expedition in 1911. On this expedition he exploited a bone bed full of remains of the gigantic rhinoceros in addition toother things of interest. These bones were perfectly preserved, but large and very fragile, and their collection and transport was only possible by the application of the methods shown to Forster-Cooper by Andrews and Granger. Even so, it was most difficult. The only method of transport was camel. A camel can only be packed by hanging cases of equal weight on each side of the body by a sling passed over the back, and, strong though it is, it has its limits. Forster- Cooper found a complete pelvis of Baluch, a thing as big as that of a large elephant. With the sand and bandages necessary for its preservation, and the great wooden case needed to contain it, it weighed much more than half the maximum weight a camel can carry, so it was necessary to unpack it and place it, in its bandages, on a pad across a camels back. The camel got up, and even walked under the load, but the strain was too great and the pelvis gradually disintegrated and had to be abandoned. Such were the difficulties in a wild desert country with no roads before the incoming of motor transport.

    These two expeditions showed Forster-Coopers great gifts as a traveller and collector. They were possible only because his personality endeared him to the Baluchis with whom he travelled, as to all those who worked with him.

    Forster-Cooper came back to Cambridge in 1911 and immediately unpacked and began to prepare his collections with his own hands. He became very skilled at this work, doing all his own preparation, even making the large and intricate casts of his more important specimens himself.

    In 1914 the first world war broke out and Forster-Cooper, like many other zoologists, was diverted to medical work on human animal parasites. After a preliminary training Forster-Cooper was attached to the team of workers under J. W. W. Stephens in the School of Tropical Medicine in the University of Liverpool. The work was a systematic examination of the action of quinine on malaria, covering all possible methods of administration and each species of malaria parasite. Forster-Coopers name appears as a collaborator in twenty- seven of the papers which recorded the results of this investigation between 1917 and 1921.

    This war work interrupted Forster-Coopers tenure of the post of Superintendent (later Director) of the University Museum of Zoology in Cambridge, which he held from 1914-1938.

    On his return to Cambridge he took up again the private tuition he had done before the war. He was a very good teacher and an admirable lecturer with a great gift of drawing on a blackboard. Many of his pupils have attained distinction as zoologists; they include C. F. A. Pantin, F. S. Russell, E. B. Worthington,

  • G. P. Wells, F. R. Parrington, W. T. Heasman and, for a shorter period, L. Hogben.

    During this period Forster-Cooper held various posts in the Zoological Laboratory, becoming Lecturer and, in 1935, Reader in Vertebrata.

    But soon after the war, perhaps in 1924, Forster-Cooper became interested in administration outside that of the museum which was his primary duty. He soon became a member of the Library Syndicate and of some of its subsidiary bodies. In this position he became aware of the difficult position into which the Library had fallen owing to the continuous and rapid increase of its book stock and of its readers. It soon became evident to Forster-Cooper that it would never be possible to provide adequate accommodation in the old University Library building, and in its neighbourhood, for a modern library, and he realized that the only solution of an urgent problem was to build a new building on an unencumbered site.

    After a long and acrimonious dis