Alexander von Humboldt, 1769-1859
German naturalist and explorer.
Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled to Latin America, exploring and describing it from a scientific point of view for the first time. His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. He was one of the first to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic were once joined (South America and Africa in particular). Later, his five-volume work Kosmos  attempted to unify the various branches of scientific knowledge.