Sidnie M. Manton (1903 - 1979)


It is with the sense of great loss and sorrow that we learned of the death of our colleague Dr Sidnis Manton on 2 January 1979, aged 76. Her finely detailed work on arthropod locomotion and the associated trunk morphology is a classic of our time and the myriapoda form a substantial part of this work.

In the years previous to and including the last war Dr Manton had made important contributions to the functional morphology and embryology of the Crustacea and Onychophora while occupying teaching posts in the Universities of Cambridge and London and caring for a young family. This work brought her the ultimate honour of election to the Royal Society in 1948. It was not until the second 25 years of her professional life that she turned her attention to land arthropods proper and brought her incisive judgement to bear upon our own Myriapoda. That she achieved so much in this later period of her life is almost incredible. She was 50 years old when her first paper specifically on Myriapods was published (Part 3 of the series, on Chilopoda and Pauropoda), and the final part 11 appeared in 1973 in her 70th year.

We realised at the Second Congress at Manchester that she had many difficulties with which to contend and marvelled at the volume of work she was still able to accomplish in the following six years of failing health; this included beginning and completing her book, the Arthropoda, published by Oxford University Press, in which was summurised 50 years research into their habits, functional morphology and evolution, nine papers published or in the press, and a sizeable portion of a second text on arthropods assembled. It was symptomatic of her spirit that she was fully intending to the 4th Congress and had delivered her completed typescript and prepared all the necessary lantern slides. She was only prevented from attending at the last minute by further hospitalisation.

Dr Manton will be remembered by her many students for her exciting lectures, by young zoologists and paleontologists to whom she gave so much help and encouragement at the beginning of their careers, and by all of us for her beautifully illustrated analyses of the principles of design in arthropods.

We extend sympathy to her husband, Dr J.P. Harding, formely Keeper in Zoology at the British Museum (Natural History) and to her son and daughter.

J. Gordon Blower, April 1979

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