JEAN LéOPOLD NICOLAS FRéDéRIC CUVIER (French: ; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as GEORGES CUVIER, was a French naturalist and zoologist , sometimes referred to as the "father of paleontology". Cuvier 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.
Cuvier's work is considered the foundation of vertebrate paleontology
, and he expanded
Linnaean taxonomy by grouping classes into phyla and
incorporating both fossils and living species into the classification.
Cuvier is also known for establishing extinction as a fact—at the
time, extinction was considered by many of Cuvier's contemporaries to
be merely controversial speculation. In his Essay on the Theory of the
Earth (1813) Cuvier was interpreted to have proposed that new species
were created after periodic catastrophic floods. In this way, Cuvier
became the most influential proponent of catastrophism in geology in
the early 19th century. His study of the strata of the
Among his other accomplishments, Cuvier established that
elephant-like bones found in the USA belonged to an extinct animal he
later would name as a mastodon , and that a large skeleton dug up in
Cuvier is also remembered for strongly opposing theories of evolution, which at the time (before Darwin 's theory) were mainly proposed by Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire . Cuvier believed there was no evidence for evolution , but rather evidence for cyclical creations and destructions of life forms by global extinction events such as deluges . In 1830, Cuvier and Geoffroy engaged in a famous debate , which is said to exemplify the two major deviations in biological thinking at the time – whether animal structure was due to function or (evolutionary) morphology. Cuvier supported function and rejected Lamarck's thinking.
His most famous work is
Le Règne Animal (1817; English: The Animal
Kingdom). In 1819, he was created a peer for life in honor of his
scientific contributions. Thereafter, he was known as Baron Cuvier.
He died in
* 1 Biography
* 2 Scientific ideas and their impact
* 2.6 Principle of the correlation of parts
* 2.6.1 Applications * 2.6.2 Impact
* 3 Scientific work
* 4 Official and public work * 5 Commemorations * 6 Works * 7 See also
* 8 References
* 8.1 Bibliography
* 9 Further reading * 10 External links
Cuvier was born in
Montbéliard , France (in department of
At the age of 10, soon after entering the gymnasium , he encountered a copy of Conrad Gessner 's Historiae Animalium , the work that first sparked his interest in natural history . He then began frequent visits to the home of a relation, where he could borrow volumes of the Comte de Buffon 's massive Histoire Naturelle . All of these he read and reread, retaining so much of the information, that by the age of 12, "he was as familiar with quadrupeds and birds as a first-rate naturalist." He remained at the gymnasium for four years.
Cuvier spent an additional four years at the Caroline Academy in
Tessier replied in dismay, "I am known, then, and consequently
lost."—"Lost!" replied M. Cuvier, "no; you are henceforth the object
of our most anxious care." They soon became intimate and Tessier
introduced Cuvier to his colleagues in Paris—"I have just found a
pearl in the dunghill of Normandy", he wrote his friend
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier . As a result, Cuvier entered into
correspondence with several leading naturalists of the day, and was
invited to Paris. Arriving in the spring of 1795, at the age of 26, he
soon became the assistant of Jean-Claude Mertrud (1728–1802), who
had been appointed to the newly created chair of comparative anatomy
Jardin des Plantes
Institut de France
Cuvier's analysis established, for the first time, the fact that African and Indian elephants were different species and that mammoths were not the same species as either African or Indian elephants, so must be extinct . He further stated that the 'Ohio animal' represented a distinct and extinct species that was even more different from living elephants than mammoths were. Years later, in 1806, he would return to the 'Ohio animal' in another paper and give it the name, "mastodon ".
In his second paper in 1796, he described and analyzed a large
skeleton found in
Together, these two 1796 papers were a seminal or landmark event, becoming a turning point in the history of paleontology , and in the development of comparative anatomy , as well. They also greatly enhanced Cuvier's personal reputation and they essentially ended what had been a long-running debate about the reality of extinction .
In 1799, he succeeded Daubenton as professor of natural history in
Collège de France . In 1802, he became titular professor at the
Jardin des Plantes
Cuvier then devoted himself more especially to three lines of inquiry: (i) the structure and classification of the Mollusca; (ii) the comparative anatomy and systematic arrangement of the fishes; (iii) fossil mammals and reptiles and, secondarily, the osteology of living forms belonging to the same groups.
In 1812, Cuvier made what the cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans called his "Rash dictum": he remarked that it was unlikely that any large animal remained undiscovered. Ten years after his death, the word "dinosaur" would be coined by Richard Owen in 1842.
During his lifetime, Cuvier served as an imperial councilor under
Cuvier was by birth, education, and conviction a devout
SCIENTIFIC IDEAS AND THEIR IMPACT
OPPOSITION TO EVOLUTION
Cuvier was critical of theories of evolution, including those proposed by his contemporaries Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, which involved the gradual transmutation of one form into another. He repeatedly emphasized that his extensive experience with fossil material indicated one fossil form does not, as a rule, gradually change into a succeeding, distinct fossil form. Because of this and his understanding of animal anatomy and physiology, Cuvier strongly objected to any notion of evolution . According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, "Cuvier did not believe in organic evolution, for any change in an organism's anatomy would have rendered it unable to survive. He studied the mummified cats and ibises that Geoffroy had brought back from Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, and showed they were no different from their living counterparts; Cuvier used this to support his claim that life forms did not evolve over time." Cuvier with a fish fossil
He also observed that Napoleon's expedition to Egypt had retrieved animals mummified thousands of years previously that seemed no different from their modern counterparts. "Certainly", Cuvier wrote, "one cannot detect any greater difference between these creatures and those we see, than between the human mummies and the skeletons of present-day men."
Lamarck dismissed this conclusion, arguing that evolution happened much too slowly to be observed over just a few thousand years. Cuvier, however, in turn criticized how Lamarck and other naturalists conveniently introduced hundreds of thousands of years "with a stroke of a pen" to uphold their theory. Instead, he argued that one may judge what a long time would produce only by multiplying what a lesser time produces. Since a lesser time produced no organic changes, neither, he argued, would a much longer time. Moreover, his commitment to the principle of the correlation of parts caused him to doubt that any mechanism could ever gradually modify any part of an animal in isolation from all the other parts (in the way Lamarck proposed), without rendering the animal unable to survive. In his Éloge de M. de Lamarck (Praise for M. de Lamarck), Cuvier wrote that Lamarck's theory of evolution
rested on two arbitrary suppositions; the one, that it is the seminal vapor which organizes the embryo; the other, that efforts and desires may engender organs. A system established on such foundations may amuse the imagination of a poet; a metaphysician may derive from it an entirely new series of systems; but it cannot for a moment bear the examination of anyone who has dissected a hand, a viscus, or even a feather.
Instead, he said, the typical form makes an abrupt appearance in the fossil record, and persists unchanged to the time of its extinction. Cuvier attempted to explain this paleontological phenomenon he envisioned (which would be readdressed more than a century later by "punctuated equilibrium ") and to harmonize it with the Bible. He attributed the different time periods he was aware of as intervals between major catastrophes, the last of which is found in Genesis.
Cuvier's claim that new fossil forms appear abruptly in the geological record and then continue without alteration in overlying strata was used by later critics of evolution to support creationism, to whom the abruptness seemed consistent with special divine creation (although Cuvier's finding that different types made their paleontological debuts in different geological strata clearly did not). The lack of change was consistent with the supposed sacred immutability of "species", but, again, the idea of extinction, of which Cuvier was the great proponent, obviously was not.
Many writers have unjustly accused Cuvier of obstinately maintaining that fossil human beings could never be found. In his Essay on the Theory of the Earth, he did say, "no human bones have yet been found among fossil remains", but he made it clear exactly what he meant: "When I assert that human bones have not been hitherto found among extraneous fossils, I must be understood to speak of fossils, or petrifactions, properly so called". Petrified bones, which have had time to mineralize and turn to stone, are typically far older than bones found to that date. Cuvier's point was that all human bones found that he knew of, were of relatively recent age because they had not been petrified and had been found only in superficial strata. He was not dogmatic in this claim, however; when new evidence came to light, he included in a later edition an appendix describing a skeleton that he freely admitted was an "instance of a fossil human petrifaction".
The harshness of his criticism and the strength of his reputation,
however, continued to discourage naturalists from speculating about
the gradual transmutation of species, until
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Like most of the scientific beliefs of Cuvier’s day, the idea that extinction didn’t exist was derived not only from scientific authority but also from religious authority as well. Religious authorities’ logic was that God wouldn’t wipe out his own creations, as doing so would be counterproductive to maintaining the connections between all forms of life on Earth, from the ocean to the earth and to the sky.
At the time Cuvier presented his 1796 paper on living and fossil elephants, it was still widely believed that no species of animal had ever become extinct. Authorities such as Buffon had claimed that fossils found in Europe of animals such as the woolly rhinoceros and the mammoth were remains of animals still living in the tropics (i.e. rhinoceros and elephants ), which had shifted out of Europe and Asia as the earth became cooler.
Thereafter, Cuvier performed a pioneering research study on some elephant fossils excavated around Paris. The bones he studied, however, were remarkably different from the bones of elephants currently thriving in India and Africa. This discovery led Cuvier to denounce the idea that fossils came from those that are currently living. The idea that these bones belonged to elephants living - but hiding - somewhere on Earth seemed ridiculous to Cuvier because it would be nearly impossible to miss them due to their enormous size. He later performed more research studies on fossils of large animals and came to the same conclusion that the fossils simply didn’t match any living today. Ultimately, his findings drove Cuvier to the proposition that the abrupt changes the Earth underwent over a long period of time caused some species to go extinct.
Cuvier’s theory on extinction has met opposition from other notable natural scientists like Darwin and Charles Lyell. Unlike Cuvier, they didn’t believe that extinction was a sudden process; they believed that like the Earth, animals collectively undergo gradual change as a species. This differed widely from Cuvier’s theory, which seemed to propose that animal extinction was catastrophic.
However, Cuvier’s theory of extinction is still justified in the case of mass extinctions that occurred in the last 600 million years, when approximately half of all living species went completely extinct within a short geological span of two million years, due in part by volcanic eruptions, asteroids, and rapid fluctuations in sea level. At this time, new species rose and others fell, precipitating the arrival of human beings.
Cuvier's early work demonstrated conclusively that extinction was indeed a credible natural global process. Cuvier's thinking on extinctions was influenced by his extensive readings in Greek and Latin literature; he gathered every ancient report known in his day relating to discoveries of petrified bones of remarkable size in the Mediterranean region.
Influence on Cuvier's theory of extinction was his collection of specimens from the New World, many of them obtained from Native Americans. He also maintained an archive of Native American observations, legends, and interpretations of immense fossilized skeletal remains, sent to him by informants and friends in the Americas. He was impressed that most of the Native American accounts identified the enormous bones, teeth, and tusks as animals of the deep past that had been destroyed by catastrophe.
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Cuvier came to believe that most, if not all, the animal fossils he examined were remains of species that had become extinct. Near the end of his 1796 paper on living and fossil elephants, he said: All of these facts, consistent among themselves, and not opposed by any report, seem to me to prove the existence of a world previous to ours, destroyed by some kind of catastrophe.
Contrary to many natural scientists’ beliefs at the time, Cuvier believed that animal extinction was not a product of anthropogenic causes. Instead, he proposed that humans were around long enough to indirectly maintain the fossilized records of ancient Earth. He also attempted to verify the water catastrophe by analyzing records of various cultural backgrounds. Though he found many accounts of the water catastrophe unclear, he did believe that such an event occurred at the brink of human history nonetheless.
This led Cuvier to become an active proponent of the geological school of thought called catastrophism , which maintained that many of the geological features of the earth and the history of life could be explained by catastrophic events that had caused the extinction of many species of animals. Over the course of his career, Cuvier came to believe there had not been a single catastrophe, but several, resulting in a succession of different faunas. He wrote about these ideas many times, in particular he discussed them in great detail in the preliminary discourse (an introduction) to a collection of his papers, Recherches sur les ossements fossiles de quadrupèdes (Researches on quadruped fossil bones), on quadruped fossils published in 1812.
Cuvier’s own explanation for such a catastrophic event is derived from two different sources, including those from Jean-André Deluc and Déodat de Dolomieu . The former proposed that the continents existing ten millennia ago collapsed, allowing the ocean floors to rise higher than the continental plates and become the continents that now exist today. The latter proposed that a massive tsunami hit the globe, leading to mass extinction. Whatever the case was, he believed that the deluge happened quite recently in human history. In fact, he believed that Earth’s existence was limited and not as extended as many natural scientists, like Lamarck, believed it to be.
Much of the evidence he used to support his catastrophist theories have been taken from his fossil records. He strongly suggested that the fossils he found were evidence of the world’s first reptiles, followed chronologically by mammals and humans. Cuvier didn’t wish to delve much into the causation of all the extinction and introduction of new animal species but rather focused on the sequential aspects of animal history on Earth. In a way, his chronological dating of Earth history somewhat reflected Lamarck’s transformationist theories.
Cuvier also worked alongside Alexandre Brongniart in analyzing the Parisian rock cycle. Using stratigraphical methods, they were both able to extrapolate key information regarding Earth history from studying these rocks. These rocks contained remnants of molluscs, bones of mammals, and shells. From these findings, Cuvier and Brongniart concluded that many environmental changes occurred in quick catastrophes, though Earth itself was often placid for extended periods of time in between sudden disturbances.
The 'Preliminary Discourse' became very well known and, unauthorized translations were made into English, German, and Italian (and in the case of those in English, not entirely accurately). In 1826, Cuvier would publish a revised version under the name, Discours sur les révolutions de la surface du globe (Discourse on the upheavals of the surface of the globe).
After Cuvier's death, the catastrophic school of geological thought lost ground to uniformitarianism , as championed by Charles Lyell and others, which claimed that the geological features of the earth were best explained by currently observable forces, such as erosion and volcanism, acting gradually over an extended period of time. The increasing interest in the topic of mass extinction starting in the late twentieth century, however, has led to a resurgence of interest among historians of science and other scholars in this aspect of Cuvier's work.
Cuvier collaborated for several years with
Alexandre Brongniart , an
instructor at the
In this monograph they identified characteristic fossils of different
rock layers that they used to analyze the geological column, the
ordered layers of sedimentary rock, of the
AGE OF REPTILES
In 1800 and working only from a drawing, Cuvier was the first to
correctly identify in print, a fossil found in Bavaria as a small
flying reptile, which he named the Ptero-Dactyle in 1809, (later
Pterodactylus antiquus)—the first known member of the
diverse order of pterosaurs . In 1808 Cuvier identified a fossil found
Cuvier speculated correctly that there had been a time when reptiles rather than mammals had been the dominant fauna. This speculation was confirmed over the two decades following his death by a series of spectacular finds, mostly by English geologists and fossil collectors such as Mary Anning , William Conybeare , William Buckland , and Gideon Mantell , who found and described the first ichthyosaurs , plesiosaurs , and dinosaurs .
PRINCIPLE OF THE CORRELATION OF PARTS
In a 1798 paper on the fossil remains of an animal found in some plaster quarries near Paris, Cuvier states what is known as the principle of the correlation of parts. He writes: if an animal's teeth are such as they must be, in order for it to nourish itself with flesh, we can be sure without further examination that the whole system of its digestive organs is appropriate for that kind of food, and that its whole skeleton and locomotive organs, and even its sense organs, are arranged in such a way as to make it skillful at pursuing and catching its prey. For these relations are the necessary conditions of existence of the animal; if things were not so, it would not be able to subsist.
This idea is referred to as Cuvier's principle of correlation of parts, which states that all organs in an animal's body are deeply interdependent. Species' existence relies on the way in which these organs interact. For example, a species whose digestive tract is best suited to digesting flesh but whose body is best suited to foraging for plants cannot survive. Thus in all species, the functional significance of each body part must be correlated to the others, else the species cannot sustain itself.
Cuvier believed that the power of his principle came in part from its ability to aid in the reconstruction of fossils. In most cases, fossils of quadrupeds were not found as complete, assembled skeletons, but rather as scattered pieces that needed to be put together by anatomists. To make matters worse, deposits often contained the fossilized remains of several species of animals mixed together. Anatomists reassembling these skeletons ran the risk of combining remains of different species, producing imaginary composite species. However, by examining the functional purpose of each bone and applying the principle of correlation of parts, Cuvier believed that this problem could be avoided.
This principle’s ability to aid in reconstruction of fossils was also helpful to Cuvier's work in providing evidence in favor extinction. The strongest evidence Cuvier could provide in favor of extinction would be to prove that the fossilized remains of an animal belonged to a species that no longer existed. By applying Cuvier's principle of correlation of parts, it would be easier to verify that a fossilized skeleton had been authentically reconstructed, thus validating any observations drawn from comparing it to skeletons of existing species.
In addition to helping anatomists reconstruct fossilized remains, Cuvier believed that his principle held enormous predictive power as well. For example, when he discovered a fossil that resembled a marsupial in the gypsum quarries of Montmartre, he correctly predicted that the fossil would contain bones commonly found in marsupials in its pelvis as well.
To Cuvier, the use of his principle to predict the existence of
marsupial pelvic bones in the gypsum quarries of
The principle of correlation of parts was also Cuvier's way of understanding function in a non-evolutionary context, without invoking a divine creator. In the same 1798 paper on the fossil remains of an animal found in plaster quarries near Paris, Cuvier emphasizes the predictive power of his principle, writing,
Today comparative anatomy has reached such a point of perfection that, after inspecting a single bone, one can often determine the class, and sometimes even the genus of the animal to which it belonged, above all if that bone belonged to the head or the limbs... This is because the number, direction, and shape of the bones that compose each part of an animal's body are always in a necessary relation to all the other parts, in such a way that—up to a point—one can infer the whole from any one of them and vice versa.
Though Cuvier believed that his principle's major contribution was that it was a rational, mathematical way to reconstruct fossils and make predictions, in reality it was difficult for Cuvier to use his principle. The functional significance of many body parts were still unknown at the time, and so relating those body parts to other body parts using Cuvier's principle was impossible. Though Cuvier was able to make accurate predictions about fossil finds, in practice the accuracy of his predictions came not from application of his principle, but rather from his vast knowledge of comparative anatomy. However, despite Cuvier's exaggerations of the power of his principle, the basic concept is central to comparative anatomy and paleontology.
COMPARATIVE ANATOMY AND CLASSIFICATION
In his anatomical studies, Cuvier believed function played a bigger role than form in the field of taxonomy. His scientific beliefs rested in the idea of the principles of the correlation of parts and of the conditions of existence. The former principle accounts for the connection between organ function and its practical use for an organism to survive. The latter principle emphasizes the animal’s physiological function in relation to its surrounding environment. These findings were published in his scientific readings, including Leçons d'anatomie comparée (Lessons on Comparative Anatomy) and in Le Règne Animal (The Animal Kingdom) in the early 19th century and 1817 respectively.
Ultimately, Cuvier developed four embranchements, or branches, through which he classified animals based on his taxonomical and anatomical studies. He later performed groundbreaking work in classifying animals in vertebrate and invertebrate groups by subdividing each category. For instance, he proposed that the invertebrates could be segmented into three individual categories, including Mollusca, Radiata, and Articulata. He also articulated that species cannot move across these categories, a theory called transmutation . He reasoned that organisms cannot acquire or change their physical traits over time and still retain optimal survival. As a result, he often conflicted with Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theories of transmutation.
In 1798 Cuvier published his first independent work, the Tableau élémentaire de l'histoire naturelle des animaux, which was an abridgment of his course of lectures at the École du Pantheon and may be regarded as the foundation and first statement of his natural classification of the animal kingdom.
In 1800 he published the Leçons d'anatomie comparée, assisted by A. M. C. Duméril for the first two volumes and Georges Louis Duvernoy for the three later ones.
Cuvier categorized snails, cockles, and cuttlefish into one category he called molluscs, or mollusca, an embranchment. Though he noted how all three of these animals were outwardly different in terms of shell shape and diet, he saw a noticeable pattern pertaining to their overall physical appearance.
Cuvier's papers on the so-called Mollusca began appearing as early as
1792, but most of his memoirs on this branch were published in the
Annales du museum between 1802 and 1815; they were subsequently
collected as Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire et à l'anatomie des
mollusques, published in one volume at
"When the French Academy was preparing its first dictionary, it defined "crab " as, "A small red fish which walks backwards." This definition was sent with a number of others to the naturalist Cuvier for his approval. The scientist wrote back, "Your definition, gentlemen, would be perfect, only for three exceptions. The crab is not a fish, it is not red and it does not walk backwards."
Source unknown, but probably Times Literary Supplement (UK).
Cuvier's researches on fish , begun in 1801, finally culminated in
the publication of the Histoire naturelle des poissons, which
contained descriptions of 5,000 species of fishes, and was a joint
PALAEONTOLOGY AND OSTEOLOGY
Plate from Le Règne Animal, 1828 edition
In palaeontology, Cuvier published a long list of memoirs, partly relating to the bones of extinct animals, and partly detailing the results of observations on the skeletons of living animals, specially examined with a view toward throwing light upon the structure and affinities of the fossil forms.
He produced an even larger body of work on fossils, dealing with the
extinct mammals of the
The results of Cuvier's principal palaeontological and geological investigations ultimately were given to the world in the form of two separate works: Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes (Paris, 1812; later editions in 1821 and 1825); and Discours sur les revolutions de la surface du globe (Paris, 1825). In this latter work he expounded a scientific theory of Catastrophism .
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM (LE RèGNE ANIMAL)
Main article: Le Règne Animal Plate from Le Règne Animal, 1828 edition
Cuvier's most admired work was his Le Règne Animal . It appeared in four octavo volumes in 1817; a second edition in five volumes was brought out in 1829–1830. In this classic work, Cuvier presented the results of his life's research into the structure of living and fossil animals. With the exception of the section on insects , in which he was assisted by his friend Latreille , the whole of the work was his own. It was translated into English many times, often with substantial notes and supplementary material updating the book in accordance with the expansion of knowledge.
Cuvier was a
Cuvier categorized these divisions he identified into 'races' according to his perception of the beauty or ugliness of their skulls and the quality of their civilizations. He placed the Caucasians at the top with the skull shape he considered the most beautiful, and the Ethiopians at the bottom.
Cuvier wrote regarding Caucasians:
The white race, with oval face, straight hair and nose, to which the civilised people of Europe belong and which appear to us the most beautiful of all, is also superior to others by its genius, courage, and activity.
Regarding Ethiopians, he wrote that the race:
...is marked by black complexion, crisped of woolly hair, compressed cranium, and a flat nose. The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism.
Cuvier's racial studies held the supposed features of polygenism , namely fixity of species; limits on environmental influence; unchanging underlying type; anatomical and cranial measurement differences in races; physical and mental differences between distinct races.
A major anthropological study done by
Baartman died in poverty in 1815 from an unknown inflammatory disease (identified possibly as Syphilis). Her body was sent to Cuvier for scientific observation. Upon receiving the body, Cuvier first made several plaster casts and a wax mold of her body, and then proceeded to dissect her. He removed her skeleton and put it up for display, along with a cast, in the French National Museum of Natural History . Then, he separated her brain and genitals from the rest of her body. These organs were then preserved in jars that were on display for more than 150 years, first in the National Museum of Natural History, and then in the Museum of Man following its establishment in 1937. Her remains and casts were finally taken off display in the late 1970s, following complaints from the public. The display was replaced with one relating Baartman's story in the context of the history of scientific racism.
French anatomist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville published notes on Baartman's dissection in 1816, which were republished by Cuvier in the Memoires du Museum d' Histoire Naturelle in 1817. "Her personality," Cuvier wrote of her in his monograph , "was lively, her memory good and, after a gap of some weeks, she recognised someone she had seen only the once. She spoke reasonable Dutch, which she had learned in The Cape, knew some English, and was beginning to say a few words in French. She danced according to the fashion of her own country, and played on the instrument they call the 'jew's harp' quite by ear ... her shoulders, back, and upper chest were graceful ... Her arms (rather slender) were very well-made, and her hand charming. Her foot was also very pretty..." Despite his impressions of her, Cuvier interpreted her remains, in accordance with his theories on racial evolution, as evidencing ape-like traits. He thought her small ears were similar to those of an orangutan and also compared her vivacity, when alive, to the quickness of a monkey .
In Cuvier’s published reports, he compared her with the orangutan and the said she was among the lowest of the human species. One of the reasons Cuvier was so interested in Baartman was because he thought her to be the “missing link” in the evolution of humankind. Cuvier and other researchers of his time used her sexuality and physiognomy to maintain her sense of otherness and to justify the crude examinations of her body. Sarah Baartman’s sexual organs provided the "central image for the black female throughout the 19th century." During this time, black female sexuality was considered pathological and compared to a prostitute, “embodying the sexualized female as a representative of lasciviousness, corruption and disease.” The comparative anatomist therefore served as a “mediator between the world of science and the realm of popular perception,” and Georges Cuvier allowed his racial perception of the world to shape his scientific studies.
OFFICIAL AND PUBLIC WORK
Engraving by James Thomson
Apart from his own original investigations in zoology and
paleontology Cuvier carried out a vast amount of work as perpetual
secretary of the National Institute, and as an official connected with
public education generally; and much of this work appeared ultimately
in a published form. Thus, in 1808 he was placed by
In his capacity, again, of perpetual secretary of the Institute, he not only prepared a number of éloges historiques on deceased members of the Academy of Sciences, but was also the author of a number of reports on the history of the physical and natural sciences, the most important of these being the Rapport historique sur le progrès des sciences physiques depuis 1789, published in 1810.
Prior to the fall of
In 1826 he was made grand officer of the Legion of Honour ; he subsequently was appointed president of the council of state. He served as a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres from 1830 to his death. A member of the Doctrinaires , he was nominated to the ministry of the interior in the beginning of 1832.
Statue of Cuvier by David d\'Angers , 1838
Cuvier is commemorated in the naming of several animals; they include Cuvier\'s beaked whale (which he first thought to be extinct), Cuvier\'s gazelle , Cuvier\'s toucan , Cuvier\'s bichir , Cuvier\'s dwarf caiman , Galeocerdo cuvier (tiger shark ), and Anolis cuvieri, a lizard from Puerto Rico. There also are some extinct animals named after Cuvier, such as the South American giant sloth Catonyx cuvieri.
Cuvier Island in New Zealand was named after Cuvier by D\'Urville .
The professor of English Wayne Glausser argues at length that the Aubrey-Maturin series of 21 novels (1970–2004) by Patrick O\'Brian make the character Stephen Maturin "an advocate of the neo-classical paradigm articulated .. by Georges Cuvier."
* Tableau élémentaire de l'histoire naturelle des animaux (1797–1798) * Leçons d'anatomie comparée (5 volumes, 1800–1805) * Essais sur la géographie minéralogique des environs de Paris, avec une carte géognostique et des coupes de terrain, with Alexandre Brongniart (1811) * Le Règne animal distribué d\'après son organisation, pour servir de base à l\'histoire naturelle des animaux et d\'introduction à l\'anatomie comparée (4 volumes, 1817) * Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes, où l'on rétablit les caractères de plusieurs espèces d'animaux que les révolutions du globe paroissent avoir détruites (4 volumes, 1812) (text in French) 2 3 4 * Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire et à l'anatomie des mollusques (1817) * Éloges historiques des membres de l'Académie royale des sciences, lus dans les séances de l'Institut royal de France par M. Cuvier (3 volumes, 1819–1827) Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 * Théorie de la terre (1821)
--- Essay on the theory of the earth, 1813; 1815, trans. Robert Kerr.
* Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, 1821–1823 (5 vols).
* Discours sur les révolutions de la surface du globe et sur les
changements qu'elles ont produits dans le règne animal (1822). New
edition: Christian Bourgeois, Paris, 1985. (text in French)
* Histoire des progrès des sciences naturelles depuis 1789 jusqu'à
ce jour (5 volumes, 1826–1836)
* Histoire naturelle des poissons (11 volumes, 1828–1848),
Cuvier also collaborated on the Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (61 volumes, 1816–1845) and on the Biographie universelle (45 volumes, 1843-18??) The standard author abbreviation CUVIER is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name .
* Biography portal * Biology portal
Saartjie Baartman , the "Hottentot Venus" whose body Cuvier
Frédéric Cuvier , also a naturalist, was Georges Cuvier's
History of paleontology for more on the impact of Cuvier's
List of works by James Pradier
* ^ Reybrouck, David Van (2012). From Primitives to Primates: A
History of Ethnographic and Primatological Analogies in the Study of
Prehistory. Sidestone Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-90-8890-095-2 .
* ^ Felipe Faria (2013). "
* ^ A B Qureshi, Sadiah (June 2004). "Displaying Sara Baartman, the
'Venus Hottentot'". History of Science. 42 (136): 233–257.
* ^ Cuvier, G.:"Extrait d'observations faites sur le cadavre d'une
femme connue à
* Faria, F. (2012). Georges Cuvier: do estudo dos fósseis à
paleontologia. São Paulo: Scientiae Studia & Editora 34.
* Coleman, W. (1962). Georges Cuvier, Zoologist. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press .
* Cuvier, G. (1801). "
* Histoire des travaux de
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