Georges Cuvier

Royal Botanist Charles Plumier

Royal Botanist Charles Plumier

On April 20, 1646, French botanist Charles Plumier was born. He is considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of his time. He made three botanizing expeditions to the West Indies, which resulted in a massive work Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera (1703–04) and was appointed botanist to king Louis XIV of France. A Friar and Botanist Charles Plumier was born in Marseille and entered the order of the Minims,…
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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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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. Louis Agassiz studied medicine at the universities of Zurich, Heidelberg, and Munich, but educated himself also in nature sciences and botany. To his early mentors…
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William Buckland’s Eccentricities and the Discovery of Megalosaurus

William Buckland’s Eccentricities and the Discovery of Megalosaurus

On March 12, 1784, English theologian, geologist and eccentric palaeontologist William Buckland was born, who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus. “Geology holds the keys of one of the kingdoms of nature; and it cannot be said that a science which extends our Knowledge, and by consequence our Power, over a third part of nature, holds a low place among intellectual employments.” — William Buckland, as…
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Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

On September 9, 1841, Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle passed away. Candolle originated the idea of “Nature’s war”, which influenced Charles Darwin and the principle of natural selection.[3,4] Furthermore, he recognized that multiple species may develop similar characteristics that did not appear in a common evolutionary ancestor; this was later termed analogy. During his work with plants, de Candolle noticed that plant leaf movements follow a near-24-hour cycle in constant light, suggesting that…
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The Wonderful World of Thomas Pennant, Zoologist

The Wonderful World of Thomas Pennant, Zoologist

On June 14, 1726, Welsh naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian Thomas Pennant was born. As a naturalist he had a great curiosity, observing the geography, geology, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around him and recording what he saw and heard about. He wrote acclaimed books including British Zoology, the History of Quadrupeds, Arctic Zoology and Indian Zoology although he never travelled further afield than continental Europe. Thomas Pennant was born…
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Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

On September 22, 1741, German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas was born. Pallas was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas at the Collegium medico-chirurgicum in Berlin.…
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Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

On September 7, 1707, French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was born. Buffon formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier. “Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of…
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Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

On July 20, 1804, English biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist Sir Richard Owen was born. Despite being a controversial figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a remarkable gift for interpreting fossils. Owen is probably best remembered today for coining the word Dinosauria (meaning “Terrible Reptile” or “Fearfully Great Reptile“). And today, dinosaurs seem to be more popular than ever, taking into account recent revenues of the latest sequel of…
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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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