DOBSON, GEORGE EDWARD (1848–1895), zoologist, born on 4 Sept. 1848, at Edgeworthstown, co. Longford, was the son of Parke Dobson of Killinagh in West Meath. He was educated at the royal school of Enniskillen and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated B.A. in 1866, M.B. and M.Ch. in 1867, and M.A. in 1875. He was first senior moderator and first gold medallist in experimental and natural science, and was also awarded the gold medal of the Dublin Pathological Society for his ‘Essay on the Diagnosis and Pathology of the Injuries and Diseases of the Shoulderblade.’ He entered the army medical department in 1868, retiring in 1888 with the rank of surgeon-major. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society on 16 April 1874, and a fellow of the Royal Society on 7 June 1883. He was also a fellow of the Zoological Society and a corresponding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and of the Biological Society of Washington.
Dobson will be chiefly remembered for his laborious investigation into the structure and classification of two groups of mammals, the chiroptera and insectivora, on both of which he became the chief authority of his time. This occupation formed the main employment of twenty years of his life. While stationed in India he made a careful study of the bats of that country. His first published paper on the subject, entitled ‘On four new Species of Malayan Bats from the Collection of Dr. Stoliczka,’ appeared in the ‘Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal’ for 1871. This was followed by numerous memoirs upon various members of the group in the same journal, in the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society,’ and in the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History.’ In 1876 the trustees of the Indian Museum brought out his ‘Monograph of the Asiatic ‘Chiroptera,’ Calcutta and London, 8vo, which led to his being employed by the trustees of the British Museum on his return to England to prepare the ‘Catalogue of the Chiroptera in the Collection of the British Museum,’ which appeared in 1878 (London, 8vo). It still remains the standard work on the anatomy, nomenclature, and classification of bats, although the four hundred species described in it have been considerably increased by subsequent investigators.
Dobson was soon afterwards placed in charge of the museum of the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, where he had further opportunities of pursuing his zoological studies. He began to extend his researches to other groups of mammals, and in 1882 commenced ‘A Monograph of the Insectivora, Systematic and Anatomical,’ London, 8vo. The second part appeared in 1883, and the first division of the third in 1890, but it was not completed at the time of Dobson’s death. He also made investigations into muscular anatomy, which resulted in an important paper ‘On the Homologies of the long Flexor Muscles of the Feet of Mammalia,’ published in the ‘Journal of Anatomy and Physiology ‘ in 1883.
Dobson died on 26 Nov. 1895, and was buried on 29 Nov. at West Mailing. Besides the works already mentioned he wrote ‘Medical Hints to Travellers,’ published by the Royal Geographical Society, which reached a seventh edition in 1893, and contributed the sections ‘Insectivora,’ ‘Chiroptera,’ and ‘Rodentia,’ in the article ‘Mammalia,’ and the articles ‘Mole,’ ‘Shrew,’ and ‘Vampire ‘ to the ninth edition of the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica.’ These articles were afterwards used by (Sir) William Henry Flower [q. v. Suppl.] and Mr. Richard Lydekker in their ‘Introduction to the Study of Mammals,’ 1891. He wrote numerous papers on zoology and comparative anatomy for British and foreign scientific journals.
[Nature, 28 Nov. 1895; Proceedings of Royal Society, 1895-6, vol. lix. pp. xv-xvii; Men and Women of the Time, 1895.]