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Francisco P.
Moreno
Francisco Pascacio Moreno (May 31, 1852 November 22, 1919) was a prominent explorer and academic in Argentinamarker, where he is usually referred to as Perito Moreno (perito means "specialist, expert").

Life and work

Moreno was born to Francisco and Juana Thwaites Madero in Buenos Airesmarker. Raised in a traditional patrician family, he studied in local parochial schools. He shared his spare time with his father searching for artifacts and fossils, and at age 14, created a homemade museum of his extensive collections. Following graduation in 1872, he participated in the establishment of the Argentine Scientific Society, and embarked on the first of the series of expeditions that made him well known: a survey of Río Negro Territorymarker, largely uncharted territory which had recently been made accessible by the controversial Conquest of the Desert campaign. In January 1876, he reached Lake Nahuel-Huapimarker, in the southern Andes, and discovered, on February 14, 1877, Lake San Martínmarker. He also explored numerous rivers in Patagonia, and on March 4, encountered El Chalténmarker, which he named Mount Fitz Roymarker.


In 1880 he embarked on a second expedition to the territory of Patagonia, where he was taken prisoner by a Tehuelche aboriginal tribe and condemned to death, but escaped on March 11, one day before the appointed execution. In 1882–1883 he explored the Andes from Boliviamarker southward, and in 1884–1885 he made new explorations of the territory south of the Río Negromarker and of Patagonia. He was director of the anthropological museum of Buenos Aires, chief of the Argentine exploring commission of the southern territories, and member of numerous European scientific societies.

For his contributions to science, Moreno received a doctorate Honoris causa from the National University of Córdobamarker in 1877. He is also known for his role in defending Argentine interests and his defining surveys leading to the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina. These surveys and others yielded Moreno a vast collection of archaeological and anthropological findings, for which he created a museum in Buenos Aires in 1877. The institution was incorporated in 1888 into the La Plata Museum of Natural Historymarker, the most important of its kind in South America, and of which he served as the first Director, until 1906.

Moreno was appointed Perito (a technical specialist or expert) in 1902, in which capacity he disproved Chilean claims to the continental divide. Moreno proved that many Patagonian lakes draining to the Pacific Oceanmarker were in fact part of the Atlantic Oceanmarker basin, but had been moraine-dammed during the quaternary glaciations, changing their outlets to the west.

In 1903, Moreno donated some of the land previously given to him for the creation of the Nahuel Huapi National Parkmarker. The Perito Moreno Glaciermarker and the town of Perito Moreno, all in Santa Cruz Provincemarker, are named after him. He was appointed Assistant Director of the National Education Council in 1911 and helped secure funding for the Bernasconi Institutemarker, a landmark primary school built in Buenos Aires on land he sold to Swiss Argentine industrialist Félix Bernasconi; its archaeological and natural history museums were created in part with his extensive collections of artifacts.

He established the Argentine Boy Scouts Association in 1912, and joined former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in a tour of Patagonia. Continuing to oversee the La Plata Museummarker well after his official retirement, political developments in later years led Moreno to join the reactionary Argentine Patriotic League shortly before his death in 1919. Moreno's remains were transferred from a La Recoleta Cemeterymarker crypt to Centinela Isle, in Lake Nahuel Huapimarker, in 1944.

Moreno's office at the La Plata Museum, his last post
Resting place on Centinela Isle


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