Which whale is named for a pioneer in scientific journalism?


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Australia’s Heber Albert Longman (1880-1954) was a pioneer in scientific journalism, a self-taught scientist who began his career as a publisher after buying a defunct newspaper and turning it into the Downs Post. He then became the editor of the weekly newspaper, Rags, before becoming the director of the Queensland Museum.

In 1926 Longman described a species of whale that had never been seen before. He based his descriptions on the mysterious skull found in Queensland in 1895, but had not been described. A subsequent skull was found in Somalia in 1955, and the species was named for the Australian newspaperman who first described the animal: Longman’s beaked whale.

For more than 30 years Longman’s writings about animals and science appeared in Australian newspapers. Prodigious until the end, Longman his “Nature’s Ways” column, one of the most popular sections of the Courier Mail, for the last six years of his life. When he died in 1954, Longman was one of Australia’s most decorated naturalists and conservationists, earning distinctions from Australia, New Zealand and across Europe.