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Watson, Lyall

Category: Scientist

Lyall Watson (April 12, 1939 - 25 June 2008) was born in Johannesburg South Africa as Malcolm Lyall-Watson.  He later shortened his name to just Lyall Watson.   He was a botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist, and author of many  books, among the most popular of which is the best seller Supernature

Watson had an early fascination for nature in the surrounding bush, learning from Zulu and !Kung bushmen. He attended boarding school at Rondebosch Boys' High School in Cape Town and then enrolled at age 15 at Witwatersrand University, where he earned degrees in botany and zoology, before securing an apprenticeship in palaeontology under Raymond Dart.  This led to anthropological studies in Germany and the Netherlands. Later he earned degrees in geology, chemistry, marine biology, ecology and anthropology. He also completed a doctorate of ethology at the University of London, under Desmond Morris.

During his long and distinguished career he also worked at the BBC writing and producing nature documentaries, served as director of the Johannesburg Zoo, was an expedition leader to various locales, and was Seychelles commissioner for the International Whaling Commission.

 

His aim in life and in his writings was to make sense of natural phenomena in biological and [veiled] spiritual terms.

Whilst numerous researchers in the so called ‘supernatural’ attempt to pursue ‘inexplicable’ events, such as dogs finding their owners, in a vain attempt to prove there is a spirit world, Lyall Watson simply describes the wonders of nature and shows that all nature is ‘supernatural’ in the sense that if you study it properly there is no way it can work without spirit and you don’t need a pigeon who finds his owner to prove it, you just need to be observant and question what you are seeing.

References

Relevant books: 

  • Supernature: A Natural History of the Supernatural (1973)
  • Lifetide: a Biology of the Unconscious (1979)
  • Dreams of Dragons: Essays on the Edge of Natural History (1986)
  • Beyond Supernature: A New Natural History of the Supernatural (1986)
  • Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil (1995)
  • Lightning Bird: An African Adventure (1982)
  • Gifts of Unknown Things: An Indonesian Adventure (1976)
  • Heaven's Breath: A Natural History of the Wind (1984)
  • The Water Planet: A Celebration of the Wonder of Water (1988)
  • The Nature of Things: The Strange Behaviour of Inanimate Objects (1990)
 

 Other books by Lyall Watson

  • Omnivore: The Role of Food in Human Evolution (1972)
  • The Biology of Death: A Matter of Life and Death (1974)
  • The Romeo Error (1974)
  • Whales of the World: A Field Guide to the Cetaceans (1981)
  • Bali Entranced: A Celebration of Ritual (1985) - published in Japanese only
  • Neophilia: The Tradition of the New (1989)
  • Sumo: A Guide to Sumo Wrestling (1989)
  • Lasting Nostalgia: Essays Out of Africa (1992) - published in Japanese only
  • Turtle Islands: Ritual in Indonesia (1995)
  • Monsoon: Essays on the Indian Ocean (1996) - published in Japanese only
  • Lost Cradle: A Collection of Dialogues (1997) - published in Japanese only
  • Warriors, Warthogs, and Wisdom: Growing up in Africa (1997)
  • Jacobson's Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell (2000)
  • Elephantoms: Tracking the Elephant (2002)
  • The Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs (2004)

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