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Nicholas Mikluho-Maclay (18461888) was a Russian explorer, ethnologist, anthropologist and biologist who became famous as the first scientist to settle among and study people who had never seen a European.
Mikluho-Maclay spent the major part of his life travelling and conducted scientific research in the Middle East, Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia and Polynesia. Australia, though, became his adopted country and Sydney the home town of his family.
He became a prominent figure of nineteenth-century Australian science and became involved in significant issues of Australian and New Guinea history. Writing letters to Australian papers, Miklouho-Maclay expressed his opposition to the labour and slave trade ("blackbirding") in Australia, New Caledonia and the Pacific, as well as his opposition to the British and German colonial expansion in New Guinea. While in Australia, he built the first biological research station in the Southern Hemisphere, was elected to the Linnean Society of New South Wales, was instrumental in establishing the Australasian Biological Association, stayed at the elite Australian Club, became the intimate of the leading amateur scientist and political figure Sir William Macleay, and married the daughter of the Premier of New South Wales. His three grandsons have all contributed to the public life of Australia.
One of the earliest followers of Charles Darwin, Miklouho-Maclay is also remembered today as a humanist scholar who, on the basis of his comparative anatomical research, was one of the first anthropologists to refute the prevailing view that the different 'races' of mankind belonged to different species.