Ever wondered why you are the only with ears resembling those of your grandfather? Well, Gregor Mendel had all the answers to this and similar questions. According to him, traits are passed down from one generation to the next in different patterns. A dominant trait will be observable in all subsequent generations, while a recessive pattern may skip one generation then reappear in the following one.
Enough about biology and genetics – let’s now focus on the one who discovered these characteristics. So, who is Gregor Mendel? Born in 1822, he was an Austrian monk best-known for the experiments he did in his garden. Here are some of the most surprising facts you might not know about the father of genetics.
Gregor Mendel: Amazing Facts about the Famous Botany Specialist
1. The name given by his parents was Johann
Initially, he was called Johann Mendel – at least that was his original name until 1843. Johann was the name given to him by his parents after his birth. He was the only boy in his family and spent most of the time on the family farm with Veronica and Theresa, his older and younger sisters, respectively.
In 1843, he attended Augustinian Abbey of St. Thomas after his university studies. Here, he committed his time to learn the priesthood. It was at the same time that Mendel scrapped off his first name, Johann, and adopted Gregor to symbolize the religious life he had started living.
2. He studied beekeeping when he was young
As earlier stated, he worked on the farm with his sisters while he was young. As such, he was able to learn several farming techniques and various sectors in this particular industry. This part of his life is what many people do not know, but it was the foundation of what would later make his name famous. Apart from other farming activities, Mendel also enjoyed beekeeping and gardening.
It is reported that he did some experiments on the bees while taking care of them, an interesting fact about Gregor Mendel. Also, in his garden, there were various breeds of trees and flowers on which he also did his tests. Basing on where he got his inheritance explanations, we can confidently say that these activities played a huge role in his success.
3. He studied at the present-day Palacky University in Olomouc
Gregor Mendel started his studies at Opava, where he went on to graduate from high school with excellent grades. As a result of his success, he was able to join the University of Olomouc – what’s known today as Palacky University. At the institution, Gregor Mendel took several disciplines, which included Philosophy and physics.
4. He became a monk to cater for his research
Mendel started his research studies while he was still very young. An interesting fact about Gregor Mendel is that he didn’t have enough money to carry out his experiments. Since he was passionate about science, he tried every possible chance to fund his work.
At 21 years of age, Prof. Franz, his teacher, advised him to enter the Abbey of St. Thomas if he wanted to continue his scientific studies. Mendel never thought he would ever become a monk, but here he was with no other option. Fortunately, the school also had an excellent reputation for teaching science.
5. He was determined to become a certified teacher but failed
Sometimes what we wish is not what comes to us. Gregor Mendel is a testimony to this statement as he tried several times to become a certified teacher but to no avail. In 1849 he took a job as a high school teacher as he didn’t enjoy working as a priest.
However, a year later, he failed qualification exams that would have made him a certified teacher. He went back to campus, this time the University of Vienna, in a bid to strengthen his chances. But he also failed in his second attempt, in 1856, because of illness on the examination day.
6. His work didn’t bring him any fame at the time
Despite working so hard to find an explanation of inheritance and genetics, many experts rejected his work. In fact, he made his work on heredity available in 1866, but not many people understood it. It would be years after his death that scientists started seeing sense in his work. As such, his name became famous from the 1900s onwards.
7. In 1868, he was made Abbot
A year or so after publishing his research, his eyesight started letting him down. Due to this health condition, he couldn’t carry out more scientific studies as he had done before. As such, he decided to devote his life to becoming Abbot of his monastery, an interesting Gregor Mendel fact. He ensured that the administration ran smoothly after being elected into that position by those who believed in him in 1868.
8. He fought against taxation laws
Perhaps since it has nothing to do with his studies, his contribution in the socio-political arena is never talked about. During his time as a monk, Mendel battled for about ten years to ensure that the new taxation rules imposed on monasteries were pulled down. His argument was that such imposition was against the constitution. However, Mendel did not live long enough to see any success in this fight as he died before the dispute was settled.
9. He is known as “the father of genetics.”
Every Biology class in the modern day has a lesson or two dedicated to learning genetics. In simple words, the term “genetics” is a study that tries to figure out how genes (transfer of traits from one generation to the next) work. Today, this has been made easier by the availability of research work done years ago.
One of the researchers in this field – and the pioneer for that matter – is Gregor Mendel. His groundbreaking studies on plants in search of answers to heredity questions are what most scientists base their work on today. Since he was the first person to discover how traits are transferred from parents to their offspring, Gregor Mendel has been dubbed as “the father of genetics.”
I hope that this article on Gregor Mendel facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!