This contribution is an attempt to sketch the life and works of Dr Jacob van der Land, curator of worms and chief marine biologist of the National Museum of Natural History, on the occasion of his official retirement. Born in 1935, Jacob van der Land read biology at Leiden University (1958-1964), where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1970 on a treatise on the Priapulida under the supervision of Prof. Dr L.D. Brongersma. In 1964 he was appointed curator of worms in the museum. Later on he took over leadership of the invertebrate section (excluding insects) of the museum and was also placed in charge of all marine research. Initially, Van der Land organized field trips for biology students of Leiden University to Scandinavia, who were able to sample seagoing studies from a research vessel. From the early seventies on he conducted a number of smaller and larger marine expeditions mainly in the tropics (particularly in SE. Asia). His talent for organisation, management and leadership in the field was outstanding and led to the complete success of these undertakings. In an interim period in the museum’s history he also participated in the general management. Subsequently his talents were severely tested when in 1996-1998 he was asked to supervise the almost traumatic move of the museum from the old premises in the Raamsteeg to the purpose- built new complex in the Darwinweg elsewhere in Leiden. Apart from having made a significant impact on the study of various groups of worms and worm-like animals (Turbellaria, Priapulida, Oligochaeta, Tardigrada, Vestimentifera), Van der Land also greatly influenced marine research in the Netherlands by participating in scientific management on a national scale. A list of his publications until early 2000 is attached.

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Zoologische Verhandelingen

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Naturalis journals & series

van Bruggen, D. (2001). Dr Jacob van der Land, marine biologist extraordinary. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 334, 7–20.