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George Henry Falkiner Nuttall (1862-1937). Portrait in oils (1932) by
Philip Alexius Laszlo de Lombos.
Nuttall and the Nuttall
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402
Keirans, James E. 1984. George Henry Falkiner Nuttall and the Nuttall tick catalogue. U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication Number 1438, 1785 pp.
During the first third of this century, Professor George H. F. Nuttall of Cambridge University amassed what, at that time, was the world's largest collection of ticks (Acari: Ixodoidea). He kept detailed records on all Ixodoidea he received, including a three-volume
handwritten catalogue. This publication presents a biography of G. H. F. Nuttall, his tick catalogue in its original and updated form, and four appendixes listing type specimens of tick species, species names of Ixodoidea, host names, and localities found in the catalogue.
KEYWORDS: Acari, biography, George Henry Falkiner Nuttall, Ixodoidea, ticks.
The ticks (Acari, Metastigmata) are without doubt the most important carriers and reservoir hosts of disease organisms affecting wild and domestic animals and, next to mosquitoes, the most important vectors of human pathogens. The bites of certain species may also cause an acute and sometimes fatal intoxication in humans known as tick paralysis, and heavy infestations on domestic animals may lead to unthriftiness and even death through exsanguination. Serious losses may also be caused by secondary infections of wounds inflicted by the parasites. Thus the bioeconomic problems created by the group are enormous, and clearly of fundamental importance to their understanding is an adequate taxonomic foundation. This to a great extent must be dependent on studies of museum material and particularly on studies of collections of outstanding importance in relation to the taxonomic history of the group.
Arguably, from this historical viewpoint, the single most important collection of ticks is that amassed by Professor G. H. F. Nuttall. Although Nuttall first turned his attention to the role of arthropods in the spread of disease as early as 1897, the real origin of the tick collection began with his investigations of canine piroplasmosis at the University of Cambridge in 1904. When these studies revealed a lack of coordinated knowledge of the biology and systematics of tick vectors, Nuttall planned and began to collect material for a comprehensive work, "Ticks: A Monograph of the Ixodoidea." For this project he enlisted the aid of C. Warburton, L. E. Robinson, and W. F. Cooper.
Originally the work was intended to be published as a single volume, but the task presented great difficulties. In 1908, the decision was made to issue separately Part I of Volume I dealing with the Argasidae. Part II ("Ixodidae,"
Section I, "Classification," Section II, "The Genus Ixodes") and Part III ("The Genus Haemaphysalis"), both by G. H. F. Nuttall and C. Warburton, were published in 1911 and 1915, but the work was seriously interrupted by World War I. Part IV ("The Genus ftnblyomma," by L. E. Robinson), which formed the first part of Volume II, was not published until 1926. It was Nuttall's fervent wish that the "Monograph" be completed. Following his retirement as Quick Professor of Biology at Cambridge University in 1931, he was able to devote more attention to the project. Sadly his sudden death in December 1937 brought the undertaking to a standstill, and although another fasciculus (Part V, "On the Genera Dermacentor, Anocentor, Cosmiomma, Boophilus, and Margaropus," by Professor D. R. Arthur) was published in 1960, the Monograph remains unfinished.
Nuttall's systematic studies at Cambridge, undertaken mainly at the Quick Laboratory and at the Molteno Institute for Research in Parasitology, spanned a period of about 33 years. During this time he received enormous amounts of material for critical examination from physicians, veterinarians, parasitologists, and taxonomists working in all parts of the world, so that at the time of its presentation to the British Museum (Natural History) by the Molteno Institute in 1939 his collection was unrivaled in its importance. As presented, the collection comprised three sections: A reference collection, rich in types, representing nearly all the valid species then recognized; a "stock" collection with many species represented by long series of specimens; and an assemblage of laboratory reared material. All items were carefully labeled and numbered and were documented in detail in a threevolume handwritten register.
Over the years the Nuttall collection has