Edwin Stephen Goodrich (Weston-super-Mare, 21 June 1868 – Oxford, 6 January 1946), was an English zoologist, specialising in comparative anatomy, embryology, paleontology, and evolution. He held the Linacre Chair of Zoology in the University of Oxford from 1921 to 1946. He served as editor of the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science from 1920 until his death.
When Goodrich was two weeks old his father died, and his mother took her children to live with her mother at Pau, France, where he attended the local English school and a French lycée. In 1888 he entered the Slade School of Art at University College London; there he met E. Ray Lankester, who interested him in zoology.
On coming to Oxford from London, Goodrich entered Merton College, Oxford as an undergraduate in 1892 and, while acting as assistant to Lankester, read for the final honour school in Zoology; he was awarded the Rolleston Memorial Prize in 1894 and graduated with first-class konours the following year.
In 1913 Goodrich married Helen Pixell, a distinguished protozoologist, who helped greatly with his work. His artistic training always stood him in good stead in drawing diagrams of surpassing beauty and clarity whilst lecturing (students used to photograph the blackboard before it was erased) and in illustrating his books and papers. He also exhibited his watercolor landscapes in London. Goodrich was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1905 and received its Royal Medal in 1936. He was honorary member of the New York Academy of Science and of many other academies, and awarded many honorary doctorates. In 1945 L.S. Berg of Leningrad sent a message through Julian Huxley: “Please tell [Goodrich] that... we all regard ourselves as his pupils.” A small, dapper, thin man with a dry sense of humor, he always complained that, when traveling by air, he was not weighed with his luggage, since his own weight was only half that of an average passenger.
When Lankester became Linacre Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Oxford University, he made Goodrich his assistant in 1892; this marked the start of the researches which during half a century made Goodrich the greatest comparative anatomist of his day. In 1921 Goodrich was appointed to his mentor's old post, which he held until 1945.
From the start of his researches, many of which were devoted to marine organisms, Goodrich made himself acquainted at first hand with the marine fauna of Plymouth, Roscoff, Banyuls, Naples, Helgoland, Bermuda, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. He also traveled extensively in Europe, the United States, North Africa, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Java. The most important area of his work involved unraveling the significance of the sets of tubes connecting the centers of the bodies of animals with the outside. There are nephridia, developed from the outer layer inward and serving the function of excretion. Quite different from them are coelomoducts, developed from the middle layer outward, serving to release the germ cells. These two sets of structures may acquire spurious visual similarity when each opens into the body cavity through a funnel surrounded by cilia which create a current of fluid. In some groups the nephridia may disappear (as in vertebrates, where the nephridia may have been converted into the thymus gland), and the coelomoducts then take on the additional function of excretion. This is why man has a genitourinary system. Before Goodrich's analysis, the whole subject was in chaos.
Goodrich established that a motor nerve remains linked to its corresponding segmental muscle, however much it may have become displaced or obscured in development. He showed that organs can be homologous without arising from the same segments of the body. For example, the fins and limbs of vertebrates and the position of the occipital arch (the back of the skull), which varies in vertebrates from the fifth to the ninth segment. He distinguished between the different structures of the scales of fishes, living and fossil, by which they are classified and recognized, a fact of importance because the different strata are identified by their fossils. Goodrich's attention was always focused on evolution, to which he made notable contributions, firmly adhering to Darwin's theory of natural selection.