LE RèGNE ANIMAL (The
The work appeared in four octavo volumes in 1817; a second edition in five volumes was brought out in 1829–1830 and a third, written by twelve "disciples" of Cuvier, in 1836–1849. 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 Pierre André 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. It was also translated into German, Italian and other languages, and abridged in versions for children.
* 1 Context
* 2 Book
* 2.1 Editions * 2.2 Translations * 2.3 Approach * 2.4 Contents
* 3 Reception
* 3.1 Contemporary * 3.2 Modern
* 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 External links
As a boy,
In an earlier attempt to improve the classification of animals,
Cuvier transferred the concepts of
Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu
For the Règne Animal, using evidence from comparative anatomy and palaeontology —including his own observations —Cuvier divided the animal kingdom into four principal body plans . Taking the central nervous system as an animal's principal organ system which controlled all the other organ systems such as the circulatory and digestive systems, Cuvier distinguished four types of organisation of an animal's body:
* I. with a brain and a spinal cord (surrounded by parts of the skeleton) * II. with organs linked by nerve fibres * III. with two longitudinal, ventral nerve cords linked by a band with two ganglia positioned below the oesophagus * IV. with a diffuse nervous system which is not clearly discernible
Grouping animals with these body plans resulted in four "embranchements" or branches (vertebrates, molluscs, the articulata that he claimed were natural (arguing that insects and annelid worms were related) and zoophytes (radiata )). This effectively broke with the mediaeval notion of the continuity of the living world in the form of the great chain of being . It also set him in opposition to both Saint-Hilaire and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck . Lamarck claimed that species could transform through the influence of the environment, while Saint-Hilaire argued in 1820 that two of Cuvier's branches, the molluscs and radiata, could be united via various features, while the other two, articulata and vertebrates, similarly had parallels with each other. Then in 1830, Saint-Hilaire argued that these two groups could themselves be related, implying a single form of life from which all others could have evolved, and that Cuvier's four body plans were not fundamental.
* Le Règne
The twelve "disciples" who contributed to the 3rd edition were Jean Victor Audouin (insects), Gerard Paul Deshayes (molluscs), Alcide d\'Orbigny (birds), Antoine Louis Dugès (arachnids), Georges Louis Duvernoy (reptiles), Charles Léopold Laurillard (mammals in part), Henri Milne Edwards (crustaceans, annelids, zoophytes, and mammals in part), Francois Desire Roulin (mammals in part), Achille Valenciennes (fishes), Louis Michel Français Doyère (insects), Charles Émile Blanchard (insects, zoophytes) and Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau (annelids, arachnids etc.).
The work was illustrated with tables and plates (at the end of Volume
IV) covering only some of the species mentioned. A much larger set of
illustrations, said by Cuvier to be "as accurate as they were elegant"
was published by the entomologist Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville
in his Iconographie du Règne
Many English translations and abridged versions were published and
reprinted in the nineteenth century; records may be for the entire
work or individual volumes, which were not necessarily dated, while
old translations were often brought out in "new" editions by other
publishers, making for a complex publication history. A translation
was made by John Edward Gray and published by Whittaker, Treacher and
Co. in 1824; another by Edward Griffith and others was published by G.
B. Whittaker in 1827–1832 and many times reprinted (up to 2012 and
eBook format); another by Henry MacMurtrie was published by G.
Henderson in 1834–1837. A translation was made and published by the
William MacGillivray in Edinburgh in 1839–1840.
Another version by
A German translation by H.R. Schinz was published by J.S. Cotta in 1821–1825; another was made by Friedrich Siegmund Voigt and published by Brockhaus.
An Italian translation by G. de Cristofori was published by Stamperia Carmignani in 1832.
A Hungarian translation by Peter Vajda was brought out in 1841.
Spiny dogfish . 1828 edition
Each section, such as on reptiles at the start of Volume II (and the entire work) is introduced with an essay on distinguishing aspects of their zoology. In the case of the reptiles, the essay begins with the observation that their circulation is so arranged that only part of the blood pumped by the heart goes through the lungs; Cuvier discusses the implications of this arrangement, next observing that they have a relatively small brain compared to the mammals and birds, and that none of them incubate their eggs.
Next, Cuvier identifies the taxonomic divisions of the group, in this case four orders of reptiles, the chelonians (tortoises and turtles), saurians (lizards ), ophidians (snakes ) and batracians (amphibians , now considered a separate class of vertebrates), describing each group in a single sentence. Thus the batracians are said to have a heart with a single atrium , a naked body (with no scales), and to pass with age from being fish-like to being like a quadruped or biped.
There is then a section heading, in this case "The first order of Reptiles, or The Chelonians", followed by a three-page essay on their zoology, starting with the fact that their hearts have two atria. The structure then repeats at a lower taxonomic level, with what Cuvier notes is one of Linnaeus's genera, Testudo , the tortoises, with five sub-genera. The first sub-genus comprises the land tortoises; their zoology is summed up in a paragraph, which observes that they have a domed carapace , with a solid bony support (the term being "charpente", commonly used of the structure of wooden beams that support a roof). He records that the legs are thick, with short digits joined for most of their length, five toenails on the forelegs, four on the hind legs.
Then (on the ninth page) he arrives at the first species in the volume, the Greek tortoise, Testudo graeca . It is summed up in a paragraph, Cuvier noting that it is the commonest tortoise in Europe, living in Greece, Italy, Sardinia and (he writes) apparently all round the Mediterranean. He then gives its distinguishing marks, with a highly domed carapace, raised scales boldly marked with black and yellow marbling, and at the posterior edge a bulge over the tail. He gives its size—rarely reaching a foot in length; notes that it lives on leaves, fruit, insects and worms; digs a hole in which to pass the winter; mates in spring, and lays 4 or 5 eggs like those of a pigeon. The species is illustrated with two plates.
The classification adopted by Cuvier to define the natural structure of the animal kingdom, including both living and fossil forms, was as follows, the list forming the structure of the Règne Animal. Where Cuvier's group names correspond (more or less) to modern taxa, these are named, in English if possible, in parentheses. The table from the 1828 Penny Cyclopaedia indicates species that were thought to belong to each group in Cuvier's taxonomy . The four major divisions were known as embranchements ("branches").
* I. Vertébrés. ( Vertebrates )
* Mammifères (
Mammals ): 1. Bimanes, 2. Quadrumanes, 3. Carnassiers
Carnivores ), 4. Rongeurs (
Rodents ), 5. Édentés (
Edentates ), 6.
Pachyderms ), 7.
* II. Mollusques. ( Molluscs )
* Céphalopodes. (
* Ptéropodes. (
* Gastéropodes (
* III. Articulés. (Articulated animals: now Arthropods and Annelids)
* Annélides (
Annelids ): 1. Tubicoles, 2. Dorsibranches, 3.
* Crustacés (
* IV. Zoophytes. ( Zoophytes , now Cnidaria] and other phyla)
* Échinodermes (
Echinoderms ): 1. Pédicellés, 2. Sans pieds.
* Intestinaux (Intestinal worms): 1. Cavitaires, 2. Parenchymateux.
* Acalèphes (
Jellyfish and other free-floating polyps): 1. Fixes,
* Polypes (
Cnidaria ): 1. Nus, 2. À polypiers.
* Infusoires (
Infusoria , various protistan phyla): 1. Rotifères
Swainson\'s Quinarian classification of birds
William Sharp Macleay
Magazine of Natural History of 1829 expressed surprise at the
long interval between the first and second editions, surmising that
there were too few scientific readers in France, apart from those in
Paris itself; it notes that while the first volume was little changed,
the treatment of fish was considerably altered in volume II, while the
section on the Articulata was greatly enlarged (to two volumes, IV and
V) and written by M. Latreille. It also expressed the hope that there
would be an English equivalent of Cuvier's work, given the popularity
of natural history resulting from the works of
Thomas Bewick (A
History of British
The Foreign Review of 1830 broadly admired Cuvier's work, but disagreed with his classification. It commented that "From the comprehensive nature of the Règne Animal, embracing equally the structure and history of all the existing and extinct races of animals, this work may be viewed as an epitome of M. Cuvier's zoological labours; and it presents the best outline, which exists in any language, of the present state of zoology and comparative anatomy." The review continued less favourably, however, that "We cannot help thinking that the science of comparative anatomy is now so far advanced, as to afford the means of distributing the animal kingdom on some more uniform and philosophical principles,—as on the modifications of those systems or functions which are most general in the animal economy". The review argued that the vertebrate division relied on the presence of a vertebral column, "a part of the organization of comparatively little importance in the economy"; it found the basis of the mollusca on "the general softness of the body" no better; the choice of the presence of articulations no better either, in the third division; while in the fourth it points out that while the echinoderms may fit well into the chosen scheme, it did not apply "to the entozoa, zoophyta, and infusoria, which constitute by much the greatest portion of this division." But the review notes that "the general distribution of the animal kingdom established by M. Cuvier in this work, are founded on a more extensive and minute survey of the organization than had ever before been taken, and many of the most important distinctions among the orders and families are the result of his own researches."
Writing in the Monthly Review of 1834, the pre-Darwinian evolutionist
surgeon Sir William Lawrence commented that "the Regne
The book was in the library of
HMS Beagle for
Philippe Taquet wrote that "the Règne