Modern biospeleology dates from May 15, 1907, with the publication of Racovitza’s “Essai sur les problèmes biospéologiques.” In this paper he posed - if he did not answer - every question raised by life in the subterranean world. He outlined a program of biospeological research, made an analysis of the conditions of existence in the subterranean domain and their influence upon cavernicoles, discussed the evolution of subterranean biota, their geographical distribution, etc. Racovitza modified Schiner’s (1854) classification, dividing cavernicoles into troglobites, troglophiles and trogloxenes, terms later adopted by a great number of biospeologists. The “Essai”, called “Racovitza’s famous manifest” by Vandel, was considered the birth certificate of biospeology by Antipa (1927) and by Jeannel (1948), its fundamental statute. Jeannel also made major contributions to the young science through his extensive and detailed studies. The names of Racovitza and Jeannel will always be linked as the uncontested masters of biospeology, the founders of Biospeologica, and the authors of «Enumération des grottes visitées». Apart from Schiner, whose ecological classification of cavernicoles was utilized and modified by Racovitza, they had another forerunner in Viré, a passionate speleologist who often accompanied Martel in his subterranean explorations, once meeting with a serious accident in which he was on the brink of death. Viré (1897, 1899) studied subterranean faunas, establishing the world’s first underground laboratory, where he carried on unsuccessful or ill-interpreted experiments. We consider Racovitza and Jeannel’s criticism of him too severe. Let us be more lenient with our forerunners, since their mistakes have also contributed to the progress of science, as well as exempting us from repeating them.
Naissance de la Biospéologie.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol1/iss1/13