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Pierre MorvanFrom taxis to beetles

Published in 1987

Pierre Morvan, who gave up driving taxis to become a world-renowned entomologist, has demonstrated how the study of ground beetles can improve our understanding of evolutionary change and how species are formed.


Pierre Morvan, a Paris taxi driver until 1989, is a prime example of how the Rolex Awards often recognize unsung heroes who are doing things outside the mainstream. As he points out, the Award is the only funding he has received in a half-century of making expeditions, chiefly to the Himalayas, and becoming a world expert in ground beetles.

Thanks to the windfall of the Rolex Award, I was able to collect an abundant amount of materials; thousands of insects... Ninety per cent of museum collections are provided by amateurs like me.

Morvan has overcome the occasional impediment posed by his independent researcher status by virtue of his persistence and perfectionism. By 2009, he had collected tens of thousands of beetles: from the mountains of Iran and the Caucasus; in the Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan and China; and in the Appalachians in the United States. He has discovered hundreds of new species and come up with five new genera, and even a sub-family.

Since his last expedition, Morvan has concentrated on examining the specimens in his collection and developing a species identification key, based on the female reproductive system that could result in a way to determine the relationships between species. He also founded the first Breton journal of entomology, and has written 50 scientific publications. The Natural History Museum in Paris invited him to join its research team.

  • 100,000

    Beetles Morvan had collected in the Himalayas and other mountain areas by 2009

  • 600

    New species of beetles discovered by Morvan


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