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Bourghassi, Carmina (1899–1964)

  • By: Virginia Pungo
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Carmina Bourghassi was a minor, but important, Italian explorer and biogeographer. Born in Milan in 1899, Bourghassi was educated and trained in zoology and geography in Florence, completing her doctorate in 1923 at the age of 24. She committed suicide in 1964.

A Renaissance woman, Bourghassi is best remembered today for her groundbreaking work on the seasonal migration patterns of penguins. One of the first geographers to travel to Antarctica, Bourghassi spent her career studying the eating and digestive habits of flightless birds. Her major work, Enciclopedia di Vomitare Pinguino, a four-volume series on the biogeography of penguins, was published in Italian in the 1950s and 1960s. She introduced advanced chemical techniques in the analysis of bird secretions and employed Lamarkian lines of thought as ...

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