PIERRE ANDRé LATREILLE (29 November 1762 – 6 February 1833) was a
French zoologist , specialising in arthropods . Having trained as a
Roman Catholic priest before the
French Revolution , Latreille was
imprisoned, and only regained his freedom after recognising a rare
beetle species he found in the prison,
He published his first important work in 1796 (Précis des caractères génériques des insectes), and was eventually employed by the Muséum National d\'Histoire Naturelle . His foresighted work on arthropod systematics and taxonomy gained him respect and accolades, including being asked to write the volume on arthropods for George Cuvier 's monumental work, Le Règne Animal , the only part not by Cuvier himself.
Latreille was considered the foremost entomologist of his time, and was described by one of his pupils as "the prince of entomologists".
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early life
* 2 Work
* 2.1 Taxonomy and systematics * 2.2 Typification
* 3 References * 4 External links
Latreille's birthplace in Brive-la-Gaillarde
Pierre André Latreille
He studied initially in Brive and in
Even during his studies, Latreille had taken on an interest in natural history , visiting the Jardin du Roi planted by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon , and catching insects around Paris. He received lessons on botany from René Just Haüy , which brought him in contact with Jean-Baptiste Lamarck .
After the fall of the Ancien Régime and the start of the French Revolution , the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was declared in 1790, which required priests to swear an oath of allegiance to the state. Latreille failed to do so and was therefore imprisoned in November 1793 under threat of execution.
When the prison's doctor inspected the prisoners, he was surprised to find Latreille scrutinising a beetle on the dungeon floor. When Latreille explained that it was a rare insect, the physician was impressed, and sent the insect to a 15-year-old local naturalist, Jean Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent . Bory de St.-Vincent knew Latreille's work, and managed to obtain the release of Latreille and one of his cell-mates. All the other inmates were dead within one month. The beetle had been described by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1775, but recognising it had saved Latreille's life.
Thereafter, Latreille lived as a teacher and corresponded with
various entomologists, including Fabricius. In 1796, and with
Fabricius' encouragement, Latreille published his Précis des
caractères génériques des insectes at his own expense. He was
briefly placed under house arrest in 1797, and his books were
confiscated, but the influence of
Following the death of
Guillaume-Antoine Olivier in 1814, Latreille
succeeded him as titular member of the Académie des sciences de
From 1824, Latreille's health deteriorated. He handed his lectures
Jean Victoire Audouin and took on several assistants for his
research work, including Amédée Louis Michel Lepeletier , Jean
Guillaume Audinet-Serville and
Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville
Latreille's wife became ill in 1830 and died in May of that year; the date of Latreille's marriage is unclear, and his request to be released from his vow of celibacy was never acknowledged. He resigned his position at the museum on 10 April 1832, in order to move to the country and thereby avoid the cholera epidemic . He returned to Paris in November, and died of bladder disease on 6 February 1833. He had no children but was survived by a niece whom he had adopted.
Play media A 3D model based on a micro-CT scan of the polychaete worm Lumbrineris latreilli , which is named after Latreille.
The Société entomologique raised the money to pay for a monument to
Latreille. This was erected over Latreille's grave at Père Lachaise
Cemetery , and comprised a 9-foot (2.7 m) obelisk with various
inscriptions, including one to the beetle which had saved Latreille's
As testimony to the high esteem in which Latreille was held, many books were dedicated to him, and up to 163 species were named in his honour between 1798 and 1850. Taxa commemorating Latreille include:
* Lumbrineris latreilli Audouin & H. Milne-Edwards, 1833 * Cecrops latreillii Leach, 1816 * Apseudes latreillii (H. Milne-Edwards, 1828) * Orbinia latreillii (Audouin "> Latreille named the rough woodlouse Porcellio scaber in 1804, and also established the genus Porcellio (1804), the sub-order Oniscidea (1802), the order Isopoda (1817) and the class Malacostraca (1802).
Latreille produced a significant body of scientific work, extending across several fields. He was described by Johan Christian Fabricius as entomologorum nostri aevi princeps ("the foremost entomologist of our time"), and by Jean Victoire Audouin as Entomologiae Princeps ("the prince of entomology").
TAXONOMY AND SYSTEMATICS
Latreille was significant as the first person to attempt a natural classification of the arthropods. His "eclectic method" of systematics incorporated evidence from all available characters without assuming a pre-defined goal; Latreille repeatedly dismissed anthropocentrism and teleology .
As well as many species and countless genera , the names of many
higher taxa are also attributable to Latreille, including
Although Latreille named many species, his primary interest was in describing genera. He introduced the concept of the "type species ", a species to which the name of a genus is firmly attached. Similarly, he favoured the method of naming families after one of the constituent genera, rather than some defining feature of the group, implicitly designating a type genus for the family.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U Claude Dupuis (1974).
Pierre André Latreille