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Gregory, William K. (William King), 1876-1970


Biographical Note

William King Gregory (1876-1970) held many positions at the American Museum of Natural History before retiring on May 19, 1944 and becoming Curator Emeritus in two departments: the Department of Living and Extinct Fishes and the Department of Comparative and Human Anatomy. He officially began at the American Museum of Natural History in 1911 as an Assistant in Paleontology after studying zoology and vertebrate paleontology under Henry Fairfield Osborn while attending Columbia University. He worked as Osborn’s Research Assistant at Columbia University from 1899-1913. In 1912, Gregory became Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History and held this position until 1921, when he became Curator of both the Department of Living and Extinct Fishes and the Department of Comparative and Human Anatomy. While in the position of Curator, he became a Research Associate in Paleontology from 1927 to 1930. During this time, Gregory was also a Professor of Zoology at Columbia University, where he began teaching in 1916.

With specialties in anatomy, phylogeny, vertebrate evolution, and mammalian dentition, Gregory published extensively. During his academic career, he developed the principle of habitus and heritage. This principle theorized that animals evolved with two types of characteristics. There was heritage, which derived from evolutionary histories, and habitus, which were adaptations to the environment. Later, he expanded his habitus and heritage theory to include his palimpsest theory, which proposed that the habitus features often shrouded the heritage features.

Selected Bibliography

Akeley, Mary L. Jobe, and William K Gregory. Congo Eden: A Comprehensive Portrayal of the Historical Background and Scientific Aspects of the Great Game Sanctuaries of the Belgian Congo with the Story of a Six Months Pilgrimage Throughout That Most Primitive Region in the Heart of the African Continent. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1950.

Gregory, William K. Biographical Memoir of Henry Fairfield Osborn, 1857-1935. Washington: National Academy of Sciences, 1938.

Gregory, William K. Evolution Emerging (Natural Sciences in America). New York: Arno Press, 1974.

Gregory, William K, Henry Cushier Raven, and Henry Cushier Raven. In Quest of Gorillas. New Bedford Mass: Darwin Press, 1937.

Gregory, William K. Man's Place among the Anthropoids: Three Lectures on the Evolution of Man from the Lower Vertebrates. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934.

Gregory, William K. Our Face from Fish to Man: A Portrait Gallery of Our Ancient Ancestors and Kinsfolk Together with a Concise History of Our Best Features. New York: Capricorn Books, 1965.


William King Gregory, Wikipedia.

Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:

William K. Gregroy portraits, includng a potrait of S.H. Chubb

Identifier: PPC .G7444
Scope and Contents

"Scientist returns from fossil study." Portrait of S.H. Chubb with horse skull, and photographs of W.K. Gregory.

Dates: 191-?