1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Heer, Oswald
HEER, OSWALD (1809-1883), Swiss geologist and naturalist, was born at Nieder-Utzwyl in Canton St Gallen on the 31st of August 1809. He was educated as a clergyman and took holy orders, and he also graduated as doctor of philosophy and medicine. Early in life his interest was aroused in entomology, on which subject he acquired special knowledge, and later he took up the study of plants and became one of the pioneers in palaeo-botany, distinguished for his researches on the Miocene flora. In 1851 he became professor of botany in the university of Zurich, and he directed his attention to the Tertiary plants and insects of Switzerland. For some time he was director of the botanic garden at Zurich. In 1863 (with W. Pengelly, Phil. Trans., 1862) he investigated the plant-remains from the lignite-deposits of Bovey Tracey in Devonshire, regarding them as of Miocene age; but they are now classed as Eocene. Heer also reported on the Miocene flora of Arctic regions, on the plants of the Pleistocene lignites of Dürnten on lake Zurich, and on the cereals of some of the lake-dwellings (Die Pflanzen der Pfahlbauten, 1866). During a great part of his career he was hampered by slender means and ill-health, but his services to science were acknowledged in 1873 when the Geological Society of London awarded to him the Wollaston medal. Dr Heer died at Lausanne on the 27th of September 1883. He published Flora Tertiara Helvetiae (3 vols., 1855-1859); Die Urwelt der Schweiz (1865), and Flora fossilis Arctica (1868-1883).