Casimir Albrecht Willem (Cas) Jeekel (Medan, 24 February 1922 – Breda, 13 March 2010. He was a former director of the Zoological Museum in Amsterdam. (now based in Leiden).

Dr Jeekel was once the world authority on millipedes and, as a Dutchman, had a great influence on the study of these animals in Australia, by writing a book about the Australian species, which was published in 1980.

He had made an expedition from Cairns to Tasmania along the east coast, together with his wife, and stopped every few kilometers to see and register those creatures. Before that study, only an American and a German had published anything about Australian centipedes. Not a single local zoologist.

Decades later, several PhD theses have been written on this subject at Australian Universities. One produced at the CSU, has a literature list citing no less than 10 publications by Dr Jeekel (including the classification he developed.) Articles about it now appear regularly in Australia’s zoological scientific publications.

He was a great-nephew of the Dutch-Australian painter Jan Scheltema. During his “1980 Australian Expedition” studying millipedes in Eastern Australia, he also assessed the art literature there. He studied letters from Scheltema and published (in Dutch) “With marten hairbrush and pallet knife; the life of Dutch-Australian painter Jan Hendrik Scheltema (1861–1941)” (translated title), showing transcribed manuscript letters by Scheltema (to 1898). These letters are now held in the Art History Institute RKD in The Hague and at the Nation Gallery of Victoria’s library in Melbourne. Particularly the hand-illustrated letter by the artist dated 5 April 1879 to his brother, being in the manuscript collection of the State Library of Victoria (S.L.V.), records the involvement of his Dutch teacher Bertelman.

And what was the result of the late Dr Jeekel’s effort here,  about his study of millipedes, which were previously neglected by scientists here?

The Australian field study of Dr Jeekel, who was on his expedition assisted by his wife, resulted in the publication:

Australia Expedition 1980: List of Collecting Stations, together with general notes on the distribution of millipedes in Eastern Australia and Tasmania,   by: C.A.W Jeekel and A.M.Jeekel-Rijvers. Published by the University of Amsterdam in 1981.

Since then several further studies of Australian millipedes by Australian zoologists were also carried out, including some published as PhD Theses at different universities.

Compiled by  Paul Budde, in consultation with Peter Reynders.

See also:

Memories of Cas Jeekel, friend, colleague, and role model by Richard Hoffman

Bulletin du Cent·re International de Myriapodologie

Cas Jeekel, myriapodoloog, bibliothecaris en museum-directeur, 1922-2010

See other personal stories.