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Endeavour. 2005 Jun;29(2):60-5.

Losing it in New Guinea: the voyage of HMS Rattlesnake.

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  • 1The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London, 210 Euston Road, London, UK NW1 2BE.


The voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake to New Guinea and the archipelago to the east of it could have achieved so much for science. 'Make sure of what you do', enthused British hydrographer Francis Beaufort to the Rattlesnake's commander Owen Stanley in 1848. 'Do not leave interesting questions to be answered at the next visit - give names to Capes and Islands...and bring yourself and your people back without quarrels'. But for some reason Stanley wavered. There were several scientists on board the Rattlesnake desperate to ask interesting questions of these uncharted islands. But these natural historians, and in particular a young Thomas Henry Huxley, found their ambitions thwarted by their increasingly edgy captain.

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