This Day in History: 1797-06-24
Johan Coenraad van Hasselt (1797 – 1823) was born on this day. He was a Dutch biologist and physician, graduated University of Groningen (1820). Along with his friend Heinrich Kuhl he had a great interest in natural history, together they made various excursions around Europe visiting natural history museums, including Paris (late 1819), where they met Lamarck, Cuvier, and other famous zoologists of that time. They were sent to Java to study its natural history by the Netherlands Commission for Natural Sciences (1820), travelling via Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Cocos islands, studying pelagic fauna en route. Kuhl died less than a year after arriving in Java, Hasselt continued collecting for a further two years before dying himself; he and Kuhl are buried in a single grave in the Bogor Botanical Garden, West Java. Their collection, sent to the Museum of Leiden, amounted to 200 skeletons, 200 mammal skins, 2000 bird skins, 1400 fishes, 300 reptiles and amphibians, along with many insects and crustaceans.
Hasselt described around 88 aquatic taxa and is honoured in the names of a number of species under hasselti(i).