A Brazilian natural scientist and explorer, b. at Bahia in 1756; d. at Lisbon in 1815. He was sent to Portugal for his training, and there studied at the University of Coimbra . After taking his degrees, he taught natural history subjects for a time at his Alma Mater, until in 1778 he was called to Lisbon to work in the Museo da Ajuda. He devoted his time for the next five years to cataloguing the various specimens contained in the museum, and to the writing of learned monographs and reports. As a result of his efforts he was elected a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences at Lisbon. The Portuguese Government empowered him to engineer a journey of exploration for scientific purposes in the interior of his native land. He entered upon this expedition in 1783 and spent nine years in it. First examining the Island of Marajo, since important for the production of rubber, he crossed to the mainland, and followed the course of the Amazon and its tributaries, studying the natives, their languages and customs, and the fauna and flora of a vast region. On account of the energy and skill with which he conducted his investigations he became known as the Brazilian Humboldt. From 1793 until his death he was in Lisbon, acting as Director of the Gabinete de Historia Natural and of the Jardim Botanico. Most of the records of his Brazilian explorations seem to have passed from view.
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