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  • Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt was a German physician, naturalist and geographer. He was born in Danzig and studied medicine in Jena and Halle, obtained his doctorate degree in the latter in 1713 and settled as a medical doctor in Danzig. In 1716, he came into contact with Russian emperor Peter the Great. By decree of November 5, 1718, Peter gave Messerschmidt the task to ”collect rarities and medicinal plants” from Siberia. Messerschmidt set out in 1720 on his exploration – the first by a naturalist in this terra incognita, which came to last for seven years. He made numerous observations related to ethnology, zoology and botany and also excavated the first known fossil mammoth remains. Messerschmidt used two simple utensils for collecting data and artefacts, written diary notes and boxes, establishing a tradition for naturalist exploration to last for a century. In Tobolsk, Messerschmidt met the Swedish lieutenant colonel Philip Johan von Strahlenberg, who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Poltava and exiled to Siberia. Strahlenberg accompanied Messerschmidt during several expeditions and later published some of Messerschmidt’s observations. Messerschmidt explored lands all the way to Argun east of Lake Baikal. The journey, however, exhausted him, and he returned to Saint Petersburg in February 1728. He never became a member of the Academy of Sciences. He died in poverty in 1735. Wikipedia

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