This Day in History: 1709-03-10

Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709 – 1746) was born on this day. He was a German naturalist and arctic explorer and is considered to be a pioneer of Alaskan natural history. He accompanied Bering on his Second Kamchatka Expedition joining it in 1740; Steller became both the first non-native to set foot upon Alaskan soil and the first European naturalist to describe a number of North American plants and animals, and may be best known for describing Stellar’s sea-cow, a large relative of the manatee, which became extinct barely 25 years after its discovery.

Steller is honoured in the name of a genus of Scorpaeniform fishes and in the names of a number of species under stelleri.