Hans Van Dyck: “As a scientist, you remain a bit of a child”

“I still feel like a boy,” says the biologist Hans Van Dyck, “I’m still amazed and that’s important as a scientist.” The biologist has been studying butterflies and other animal species for 25 years. He has been involved in nature from an early age. “I’ve always been a ‘little professor,’ my room was like a natural history museum.” Van Dyck still has that fascination.

“I was sixteen years old when I took a nature counselor course, actually I was too young, but I wanted to do it anyway so I could share that knowledge afterwards.” He will soon do the same on TV. In a new program with Tom De Cock, the professor will do a science show with a couple of other scientists. “To me, it’s going to be about deception.”

Brother love

Hans Van Dyck is the brother of the actor Tom Van Dyck as you may know from ‘Het Eiland’ and ‘In de Gloria’. He also has another brother, Peter, who took over the business from the parents. “Three different people, but all with the same passion and drive for our profession.” Despite the differences, they come out of it well. “That brotherly love has always been there.”

Astonishment and admiration

The biologist has great admiration for the Dutch behavioral biologist Niko Tinbergen who was the founder of behavioral biology. He and two other scientists won a Nobel Prize in 1973. “This was also due to the creativity he worked with.

In his lessons, Hans Van Dyck uses the painting “La trahison des images” Rene Magritte (‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe.’) To show that what you see is not always reality. “We look through our human glasses from the cage of homo sapiens to understand other animals. Biologists use knowledge, insight and technology to understand an animal or a plant.”

The significance of biology

Hans Van Dyck lives in Herentals, where it was decided earlier this week that seventy healthy tribal oaks could remain in Begijnendreef. Initially, it was decided to dig them all. “I have shed my light on the matter. The plan was to remove the old trees and plant new ones to get the same view. ”

“You can’t just plant a forest. You can plant trees, but then you do not have a forest. Trees have an ecological value that can not just be replaced by planting new ones. “It would be a shame to cut down the healthy trees by an aesthetic choice.”

Barmven Christophe Lambrecht

Hans Van Dyck had been friends with the radio host since kindergarten Christophe Lambrecht who died in 2019 due to heart failure. “We knew each other from kindergarten, we played together in the sandbox.” They still hung out together in their puberty. “He introduced me to new music.” The news that Christophe was dead hit like a bomb. “His passing made me look at things differently.”

They used to make radio together in the attic. “He presented, my brother Tom had a section where he imitated different characters and I had a nature column.” Christophe got to know Hans and his brothers all kinds of new music, and Hans in turn inspired him with his knowledge of nature.

These are the topics that were discussed:


You can watch the science show ‘Kennismakers’ on One from this autumn.
Would you like to take part in a recording? It is possible, click here.


You can listen to the Van Dyck brothers in ‘De Familie’ on Radio 1 on our site.


You can read about the fascinating world of butterflies in his book ‘The Oracle of the Wood Nymph: Of Butterflies and Humans’.

‘The Origin of Species’ (1859) by Charles Darwin is, according to Hans, a masterpiece.

And he gives a few more book tips:

‘The Descent of Man’ (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex) (1871) – Charles Darwin

‘Environment and the Inner World of Animals’ (1909) – Jakob Johann von Uexkull.

‘Naturalist’ (1994) – Edward O. Wilson

‘Nikos natur’ (2003) – Hans Kruuk.

‘Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive’ (2005) – Jared Diamond.

‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’ (1995) – Daniel C. Dennett.


‘One More Time with Feeling’ (2016), recorded by Andrew Dominik on the recording of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ‘Skeleton Tree’.

Hans also recommends the new documentary ‘This much I know to be true’ about Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, again by Andrew Dominik.


Hans likes to use ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ by René Magritte in his lessons.


“We Are Not Alone” To the song by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. We are not alone here as humans on this planet.


  • Butterfly – Willie Nelson
  • She’s so beautiful – Mike Scott / The Waterboys
  • If you want to dance, dance, if you do not want to – TC Matic
  • Catalog d’oiseaux: L’alouette lulu (= The Forest Lark) – Olivier Messiaen (Performed by Roger Muraro)
  • The soundtrack to ‘This much I know to be true’.
  • Peek-a-boo – Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Big Mama – Wizards of Ooze
  • Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel (cover of Harry Styles)
  • No Moon in Paris – Marianne Faithfull
  • White Elephant – Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

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