Charles Lyell

Georges Cuvier and the Science of Paleontology

Georges Cuvier and the Science of Paleontology

On August 23, 1769, French naturalist and zoologist Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier aka Georges Cuvier was born. He was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century, and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. “Why has not anyone seen that fossils alone gave birth to a theory about the formation of the earth, that without…
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The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

On February 15, 1830, the famous Paris Academy Dispute between the naturalists Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and George Cuvier [5] about the possibility of biological evolution began with a speech of Saint-Hillaire comparing vertebrates with mollusces. Within eight public debates the scientists argued about the possibility that nature not necessarily has to be static but might be subject to constant change. It was the most prominent scientific debate in the 19th century that heavily influenced science…
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Charles Darwin and the Natural Selection

Charles Darwin and the Natural Selection

On February 12, 1809, the English naturalist Charles Darwin was born. He popularized the term ‘natural selection‘ as a milestone in modern biology, which was introduced in his masterpiece ‘On the Origin of Species‘ in 1859. It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in these grand scenes; but it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and elevate…
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Charles Lyell and the Principles of Geology

Charles Lyell and the Principles of Geology

On November 14, 1797, Charles Lyell, British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day, was born. Lyell was a close friend to Charles Darwin and is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularized James Hutton‘s concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the earth was shaped by the same processes still in operation today. “The form of a coast, the configuration of the interior of a country,…
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Louis Agassiz and the Ice Ages

Louis Agassiz and the Ice Ages

On May 28, 1807, Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, and geologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born, who is considered a prominent innovator in the study of the Earth‘s natural history. He was the first to scientifically propose that the Earth had been subject to a past ice age. “The time has come when scientific truth must cease to be the property of the few, when it must be woven into the common life…
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Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet and Man’s Prehistoric Cultural Development

Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet and Man’s Prehistoric Cultural Development

On August 29, 1821, French archaeologist and anthropologist Louis Laurent Gabriel de Mortillet was born. De Morillet was the first to organize man’s prehistoric cultural developments into a sequence of epochs. Based on the idea that older specimens of man were more primitive structurally and culturally, he created a ladder-like model of the evolution of man. This model was the basis for the idea of linear evolution of men. A Revolutionary Freethinker…
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Eduard Suess and the Study of Tectonics

Eduard Suess and the Study of Tectonics

On August 20, 1831, Austrian geologist Eduard Suess was born. Suess was an expert on the geography of the Alps and helped lay the basis for paleogeography and tectonics, i.e. the study of the architecture and evolution of the Earth‘s outer rocky shell. He is responsible for hypothesising two major former geographical features, the supercontinent Gondwana (proposed in 1861) and the Tethys Ocean. Eduard Suess was born in London into the large family…
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Mary Anning and her Marine Fossils

Mary Anning and her Marine Fossils

On May 21, 1799, British fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist Mary Anning was born. She became known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Mary Anning was born in Dorset,…
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Gideon Mantell and the Iguanodon

Gideon Mantell and the Iguanodon

On February 3, 1790, English obstetrician, geologist and palaeontologist Gideon Algernon Mantell was born. His attempts to reconstruct the structure and life of Iguanodon began the scientific study of dinosaurs. In 1822 he was responsible for the discovery of the first fossil teeth, and later much of the skeleton, of Iguanodon. Moreover, Mantell is also famous for his contributions on the Cretaceous of southern England. Well, the Cretaceous is a geologic period…
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Alfred Russel Wallace and the Natural Selection

Alfred Russel Wallace and the Natural Selection

On January 8, 1823, British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist Alfred Russel Wallace was born. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin‘s writings in 1858. This prompted Darwin to publish his own ideas in On the Origin of Species [5,6]. “Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and…
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