Alfred G. Mayer (Alfred Goldsborough Mayor; April 16, 1868 – June 24, 1922) was an American marine biologist and zoologist of German descent whose fascination with medusae (jellyfish) marked a turning point for biology. Despite Mayor's interest in the sea, his first voyage began during his twenty-fourth year of life. Because of his German 'heritage', "[...]he altered it (his last name) to "Mayor" in order to dissociate himself from his Germanic roots". Mayor is also greatly known for his many publications and papers in which he wrote about topics ranging from physics to hunting and fishing.
Mayor was born in Frederick, Maryland. Dropping out from school at age sixteen, he began to work in a machinist's shop. To please the request of his father, Alfred enrolled in the Stevens Institute of Technology. After many years of physics-related work in several universities, Mayor left his position to pursue a career in natural history, a great interest of his. Professor Lucian I. Blake, one of Mayor's many mentors and professor of University of Kansas, stated that," [Alfred was] successful in Physics,...his true taste and longings were toward natural history." In 1897, he graduated from Harvard University with a Sc.D.
Mayor's most recognized work originated from his work as a successful marine biologist. He published his first book about jellyfish in 1910 titled Medusae of the World, which documented his many studies of species of jellyfish around the world.
In 1907 Mayor founded the Tortugas Laboratory on Garden Key (today Fort Jefferson National Monument), maintained by the Carnegie Institution for Science, where each summer marine biologists studied the life of the coral reef. Mayor died on nearby Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas, aged 54.
- Rhythmical pulsation in Scyphomedusae, 1906
- Medusae of the World, 1910
Species named after Mayer
- Ectopleura mayeri Petersen, 1990
- Rissoina mayori Dall, 1925
- Eutiara mayeri Bigelow, 1918
- Melicertissa mayeri Kramp, 1959
- Lobonema mayeri Light, 1914
- Coeloseris mayeri Vaughan, 1918
- Porites mayeri Vaughan, 1918
- likely Gadila mayori Henderson, 1920
- Seafaring Scientist by Lester D. Stephens and Dale R. Calder: published in 2006
- Federal Writers' Project (1939), Florida. A Guide to the Southernmost State, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 206
- "The Code Online". International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature.
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