Carl Frederick Abel Pantin


1899-1967. Professor of Zoology. Pantin

Fascinated by natural history since early childhood, Pantin studied at Tonbridge School and Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Zoology and Comparative Anatomy.  He then spent seven years working at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Plymouth, where he began his studies of the lower orders of invertebrates.  His work on amoeboid movement contained the elements of the later biophysical approach to the structure of cytoplasm; he investigated the effect of ions on and in tissues and made similarly fundamental discoveries about osmoregulation in flatworms. Pantin believed that physiological mechanism is only meaningful when understood in the context of the biology of the animal in nature; he was one of the first zoologists to employ an ecological, rather than morphological, approach. To this end he would call on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the animal kingdom, backed by a sound knowledge of palaeontology and geology.

He became a Fellow of Trinity in 1929 where he lectured and directed studies for the following thirty-five years, while continuing his own research and publications.  His most influential work was a series of papers, published in 1933, on the functioning of the nervous system of the sea anemone.

He became reader in invertebrate zoology in 1937 and succeeded Sir James Gray as professor two years later. Despite his failing health, as head of the zoology department Pantin succeeded in obtaining new buildings for the Museum of Zoology, and a modern research wing which today bears his name.  Pantin was president of the Linnean Society of London from 1958 to 1960, president of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (1960-66), and from 1963 until his death, chairman of the board of trustees of the Natural History Museum. He received the royal medal of the Royal Society, and the gold medal of the Linnean Society. He became an honorary member of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was given honorary doctorates of the universities of São Paulo and Durham. He also became an honorary fellow of Christ's College.

Memorial inscription Translation


zoologiae professor et huius collegii per XXXVII
annos socius, qui cum in omnium naturam
animantium praesertim eorum quae semitas
maris perambulant studium fecundum contulit,
tum singulari animi humanitate amicos sibi
adiunxit, a.s. MCMLXVII aetatis suae LXVIII societati
toti deflendus mortem praematuram obiit.

Carl Frederick Abel Pantin was Professor of Zoology, and Fellow of the College for thirty-seven years.  He directed his productive researches to the study of all animals, particularly the creatures which wander the paths of the sea [Psalm 8: 9].  His singular kindness made him many firm friends.  He died before his time in 1967 at the age of sixty-seven, and he was mourned by the whole Society.

Carl Frederick Abel Pantin

Brass located on the north wall of the Ante-Chapel. 
Inscription text by A.S.F. Gow.


Pantin brass




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Charles William Oatley


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