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Comment by David Walker on August 24th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

RE: “Rotifers were first described by John Harris in 1696 (Hudson and Gosse 1886). Leeuwenhoek is mistakenly given credit for being the first to describe rotifers, but Harris had produced sketches in 1703. There are over 1,800 known species of rotifers.”

Harris was not the first to describe rotifers, it was Leeuwenhoek. Hudson and Gosse may not have been aware of Leeuwenhoek’s letter dated 17th October 1687 as it was not published and translated in Phil. Trans. of the Royal Society.
It was published translated in 1964 in Volume VII of the ‘Collected Letters of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’. Available on the DBNL website.

On page 95ff he unmistakably describes the features of rotifers in this letter as noted by the translators in their footnote 15. Where they also note earlier letters may have mentioned rotifers as described by Dobell.

The only ref. to Harris have seen is his un-illustrated Phil. Trans letter. So the sketches may refer to Leeuwenhoek’s clear illustrations in 1703, not by Harris.

Also see Brian J Ford ‘The Rotifera of Antony van Leeuwenhoek by Brian J Ford, Quekett Journal of Microscopy, 1982, vol. 34, 362-373 who discusses the letter timeline. Ford is one of the leading experts on Leeuwenhoek’s microscopes and microscopical studies. Ford found an algal mat sample enclosed by Leeuwenhoek in his letter to the Royal Society dated 17th October 1687 and photographed bdelloid rotifers in a rejuvenated sample although not alive. See Ford’s ‘The Leeuwenhoek Legacy’, 1991. This provides further proof that there were rotifers in the samples Leeuwenhoek described.

Comment by dlr on April 13th, 2019 at 11:51 am

FYI. The article on Rotifers has a mislink. It links ‘corona’ (the ciliated tufts around the rotifer’s mouth) to which is a discussion of the corona of the sun.

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on April 15th, 2019 at 9:56 am

Thank you dlr, for your comment. I will change that link!

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