Thanks to the work of Northumbrian native Dr Marie Lebour (1876-1971), we now have an unprecedented view into the life of our seas. An expert on crustaceans, molluscs and microplankton, her books and research papers are still in use by scientists and students today.
Driven by curiosity, and before she had any scientific training, Lebour first published on molluscs and their parasites in 1900. She continued her investigations on parasites as a Zoology student at Durham University, and later in the 1930s she resumed her studies on molluscs as an established researcher at the Marine Biological Association’s Plymouth Laboratory.
Lebour studied the life cycles of many aquatic organisms, rearing them from eggs to larvae and on through metamorphosis to the adult, using the newly invented plunger jars which kept water flowing and full of oxygen. Her knowledge has contributed to our understanding of marine dwelling organisms from herring fish to single-cell diatoms.
The illustrations in her research papers showcase her artistic talent, which she had developed as an art student before her transfer to a career in science.
Illustration from Dr Marie Lebour’s paper: Larval and Post-larval Lima from Plymouth. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 21(2), 705-710.
Lima are salt water clams and their shelled larva are called veliger.
A – E show larval growth from 0.08 mm to 0.32 mm. G,H,J,K are post-larva undergoing metamorphosis to young clams.
Read her obituary in The Journal of the Marine Biological Association Volume 52:772, 1972.
The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. (2000). Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie and Joy Dorothy Harvey. p.761
(1906) On Variation in the Radulae of Certain Buccinidae. The Journal of Conchology.
(1906) The Mussel Beds of Northumberland. Northumberland Sea Fisheries Report, 1906.
(1907) Some Trematodes in Mytilus. University of Durham Philosophical Society ‘Excerpt from the Proceedings of the Society, Vol. II., Part 6.
(1907) Fish trematodes of the Northumberland Coast. Northumberland Sea Fisheries Report, 1907.
(1907) Trematodes of the Northumberland Coast. No. II. Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Vol. II, part I.
(1909) Acanthopsolus lageniformis, N. Sp., a trematode in the catfish. Northumberland Sea Fisheries Report, 1909.
(1909) Trematodes of the Northumberland Coast. No. III.: A preliminary note on Echinostephilla virgula, a new trematode in the Turnstone. Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Vol. III, part 2.
(1912) A Review of the British Marine Cercariae. Parasitology, Vol. IV, No. 4, January 8, 1912.
(1913) A New Trematode of the Genus Lechriorchis from the Dark Green Snake(Zamenis gemonensis). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London.
(1914) Some Larval Trematodes from Millport. Parasitology, Vol. VII, No. 1, May 14, 1914.