French palaeontologist Georges Cuvier Aristocracy

“Not enough knowledge, you must also apply; it is not enough to want but need to do”

Johann Goethe

Introduced the concept of type in Zoology. Established the principle of “correlation bodies”, on the basis of which reconstructed the structure of many extinct animals. Did not recognize the mutability of species, explaining the change of the fossil faunas of the so-called catastrophe theory.

Catastrophe theory is a geological concept, according to which the history of the Earth periodically repeated events, suddenly changing the originally horizontal bedding of rocks, the relief of the earth and destroy all life. Launched in 1812 by the French scientist G. Cuvier to explain the change of faunas and floras observed in the geological strata. By the end of the 19th century theory of catastrophes lost its meaning.

Georges Leopold Christian Dagobert Cuvier was born 23 August 1769 in the small town of Montbeliard. Father Cuvier was an old officer in the French army, and lived in retirement. Mother gave herself entirely to the care and sickly and feeble child, what was in my childhood Cuvier.

In four years he could read, his mother taught him to draw, and this art Cuvier thoroughly mastered. Subsequently, many of the drawings made by him, was published in his books and repeatedly republished in books by other authors. Reading was a favourite pastime, and then the passion of Georges Cuvier. His favourite book was “the Natural history” of Buffon, illustrations from her Cuvier was constantly redrawn and painted.

In fifteen years, Georges Cuvier finished the Caroline Academy in Stuttgart, where he was elected to the faculty office of science, where he studied law, Finance, health and agriculture. Still most attracted him to the study of animals and plants. Almost all comrades Georges Cuvier were older than him. Among them were several young people who are interested in biology. Cuvier organized a group and called it “the Academy”.

Georges Cuvier went to Normandy in 1788 on the eve of the French revolution. There, in a secluded castle, he spent most violent in the history of France’s.

Estate of count Erisi was on the sea, and Georges Cuvier first saw these marine animals who know him only from drawings. He opened these animals and studied the internal structure of fish, soft-shelled crabs, sea stars, worms. He was surprised to find that the so-called lower forms, in which scientists of his time assumed a simple body structure, there and bowel disorders, and heart, blood vessels, and nerve nodes branching off from them nervous trunks. The results of the research he described in detail in the Zoological journal.

After meeting with the Abbot, Georges Cuvier, at his request, gave a course of botany at the hospital. Thanks to the contacts of the Abbe Paris scientists, Cuvier struck up a relationship with the most prominent naturalists.

In the spring of 1795 Georges Cuvier came to Paris. He quickly moved and in the same year was held at the University of Paris – Sorbonne – the Department of animal anatomy. In 1796, Cuvier was appointed a member of the national Institute, in 1800, he took up a chair of natural history in the College de France. In 1802 he took the chair of comparative anatomy at the Sorbonne.

French palaeontologist Georges Cuvier Aristocracy   Georges Cuvier left a lot of notes and drawings of the structure of organisms (extract from the diary)

The first scientific work of Georges Cuvier were devoted to entomology. In Paris, studying the rich collections of the Museum, Cuvier was gradually convinced that adopted in the science system of Linnaeus is not strictly true. Linnaeus divided the animal world into 6 classes: mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects and worms.

Cuvier proposed another system. He believed that in the animal world there are four types, quite dissimilar to each other. Animals of the same type clad hard shells, and their body consists of many segments; these are crabs, insects, millipedes, some worms. Cuvier called these animals are “articulate”.

In another type of soft body of the animal is enclosed in a hard shell and no signs of clientele’s they don’t have: snails, octopus, oysters – these animals Georges Cuvier called “spineless”. Animals of the third type have dissected internal bony skeleton “vertebrate animals. The animals of the fourth type are constructed the same way as starfish, i.e. parts of their body are the radii diverging from the same centre. These animals Cuvier called “radiant”.

Within each class of G. Cuvier allocated classes; some of them coincided with classes Linnaeus. For example, the vertebrate type was divided into classes of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. System Cuvier much better expressed valid correlation between groups of animals than the system of Linnaeus. Soon she came into common use by zoologists. Your system Georges Cuvier laid the basis for major three-volume work “the animal Kingdom”, which was described in detail the anatomical structure of the animal.

Deep knowledge of anatomy and the animals allowed to Georges Cuvier to restore the appearance of extinct creatures in their preserved bones. Cuvier made sure that all the organs of the animal closely related to each other that each Council is required for the life of the whole organism. Each animal is adapted to the environment in which it lives, finds food, hiding from enemies, takes care of the offspring.

“The body, ” said G. Cuvier, is a coherent whole. Parts of it cannot be changed without causing a change in the other. This constant connection bodies between themselves Cuvier called the “correlation of parts of the body.

By studying fossils, Georges Cuvier restored the appearance of many extinct animals that lived millions of years ago. He proved that on the place of Europe was warm sea, on which floated a huge predators ichthyologists, pterosaurs and other They, as well as dinosaur were lizards and have adapted to life in the sea.

Cuvier proved that in those days, and in the air was dominated by reptiles and birds have not been. Some winged lizards wingspan reached seven meters, while others were the size of a Sparrow. On the wing flying lizard had no feathers, it was a leathery membrane stretched between the animal body and a very extended his little finger of the forelimb. Cuvier called these fossils of dragons pterodactyls, i.e. “polacrilin”. Pterodactyls were also predators and hunted fish. They caught their jaws armed with recurved teeth.

French palaeontologist Georges Cuvier Aristocracy   Based on their research, Georges Cuvier created a new version of the evolution of modern species.

Having studied other fossils, Georges Cuvier was convinced that in the past was an era with a unique animal world, in which there is no modern animal. All then living animals died. This fossil fauna of terrestrial animals, mainly mammals, was found near Paris in the gypsum quarries in the limestone formations of rock – marl.

Georges Cuvier discovered and described about forty extinct species of large mammals – thick-skinned and ruminant. Some of them remotely resembled modern rhinos, tapirs, wild boars, others were quite peculiar. But none of them were living in our time ruminant – no bulls, no camels, no deer, no giraffes.

Continuing his research, Cuvier discovered that the fossil fauna found in the layers of the earth’s crust in a known order. In older strata containing the remains of marine fishes and reptiles, in the later Cretaceous sediments – other reptiles and the first fine and rare mammals with very primitive structure of the skull. In an even later – the fauna of ancient mammals and birds. Finally, in the sediments prior to modern, Cuvier discovered the remains of the mammoth, cave bear, woolly rhinoceros.

Thus, fossils, you can determine the relative sequence and antiquity of the layers, and the layers relative antiquity of extinct faunas. This discovery formed the basis of historical Geology and stratigraphy of teaching about the sequence of layers composing the crust.

What had gone fauna that we find now in the form of fossils, and where there were new, who came to replace them? Modern science explains the evolutionary development of the animal world. Open Gorgom Cuvier facts formed the basis of this explanation. But Cuvier had not seen the enormous value of discoveries. He firmly stood on the old point of view of the constancy of species. Cuvier believed that among minerals there are no transitional forms of animals.

(These forms were discovered only many years after the death of Cuvier.) He pointed to the sudden disappearance of the fauna and the lack of communication between them. For explanation of consecutive change of the fossil animals Cuvier had invented the special theory of “coups”, or “accidents”in the history of the Earth.

He explained the catastrophe: inland sea was coming and was absorbed by all living things, then the sea receded, the bottom of the sea became dry land, which had been settled in new animals. From where they were taken? Cuvier did not give a clear answer. He said that new animals could migrate from distant places where they lived before.

Essentially, it was a reactionary theory that attempted to reconcile scientific discoveries with the religious doctrine of immutability and permanence of species. The theory of “accidents” for a long time prevailed in science, and only evolutionary Darwinism refuted it.

Georges Cuvier paved in biology new avenues for research and created a new field of knowledge – the palaeontology and comparative anatomy of animals. Thus was prepared the triumph of evolutionary theory. It appeared in science after the death of Cuvier and contrary to his worldview.

In Cuvier, as every man, there were errors. But it would hardly be fair because of errors to forget about his greatest achievements. If the writings of Georges Cuvier to assess impartially, we should recognize their great scientific importance: he has taken far more extensive areas of life Sciences.

Merit scholar were noted: he was elected a member of the French Academy, under Louis-Philippe, he became a peer of France.

French palaeontologist Georges Cuvier Aristocracy   Thanks Cuvier in many museums around the world have collected the skeletons of dinosaurs and pre-existing species of animals.

One day, 1795 resident of Maastricht, Dutch Hoffman produced around the city of excavations and found some giant bones. He sketched them and sent them pictures and individual teeth in the Paris Georges Cuvier. Hoffman has suggested that this is the remains of a whale skeleton.

Some scientists who saw the bones, found them for the remains of a crocodile. As a Canon of the Cathedral argued that the skeleton Saint, patron Saint of the city of Maastricht. On this basis, the Canon took Hoffman discovery and moved it, as a sacred relic in the Cathedral. Cuvier then voted against all of these judgements. But for the final decision that was something, he felt it necessary to explore the entire skeleton.

And to Georges Cuvier people paid attention to the rare finds of fossil animals. Most scientists regarded them as curiosities, “playing with nature” bones fabulous giants or the ancient saints. Cuvier not only attracted a large number of such finds, but also brought them into the system and described.

Cuvier has developed the scientific method, which allowed the study of fossil animals with the same precision with which the study of living animals. He is rightly considered the founder of palaeontology – science about the fossil remains of organisms that lived on Earth in ages past and extinct.

After receiving the parcel from Maastricht, Georges Cuvier collected from the bones of an almost complete skeleton and made sure that it is the bones of a huge reptile. In the ridge of the animal was more than 130 vertebrae. The length of the lizard reached fifteen feet from them on the head had more than two meters, and a tail of about seven meters.

His huge mouth was armed with long sharp teeth, which allowed strong to keep a captured prey. The animal was named Matsuura: “sauros” in Greek is a reptile, lizard, and the first part of the word “Moto” was to remind that the discovery is made in the basin of the river Meuse (French pronunciation – “Meuse”).

Mesosaur when life was a marine predator, the attackers on fish, shellfish and other sea animals. Georges Cuvier drew attention to the fact that together with the bones of Mesosaurs were found many remains of marine shells, Crustacea, fossil corals, bones and teeth of extinct marine fish. All these animals inhabited the once warm water of the sea, which stretched on the place of modern Holland.

So Cuvier decided the question, which other scientists were helpless. Measure Cuvier studied at the beginning of his scientific activity. Later he had to solve the same riddle of nature.

Georges Cuvier died in 1832.

“In one only true wisdom is science”

Johann Goethe