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Georges Cuvier

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Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

Baron Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (Born::August 23, 1769Died::May 13, 1832) was a French naturalist and zoologist.

Biography

He studied at the Carolinian Academy in Stuttgart, from 1784 to 1788 and then took a job as a tutor to a noble family in Normandy, which kept him out of the violence of the French Revolution. In 1795, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire invited him to come to Paris; he was appointed an assistant, and shortly after a professor of animal anatomy, at the newly reformed Musee National D'Histoire Naturelle (National Museum of Natural History). Cuvier stayed at his post when Napoleon came to power, and was appointed to several government positions, including Inspector-General of public education and State Councillor, by Napoleon. Cuvier continued as a state councillor under three successive Kings of France; he then accomplished the almost unbelievable feat of serving under three different, opposing French governments (Revolution, Napoleonic, and monarchy) and dying in his bed. By the time of his death he had been knighted and made a Baron and a Peer of France.

Cuvier saw organisms as integrated wholes, in which each part's form and function were integrated into the entire body. No part could be modified without impairing this functional integration. The component parts of each must be so arranged as to render possible the whole living being, not only with regard to itself, but to its surrounding relations, and the analysis of these conditions frequently leads to general laws, as demonstrable as those which are derived from calculation or experiment. His achievements were that he knew how to reconstruct fossils and bones which made him very well known around the world. He can reconstruct organisms and most likely getting them accurate.

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 that they were no different from their living counterparts; Cuvier used this to support his claim that lifeforms did not evolve over time. Organisms were functional wholes; any change in one part would destroy the delicate balance. But the functional integration of organisms meant that each part of an organism, no matter how small, had signs of the whole. This meant it was possible to reconstruct organisms from fragmentary remains, based on rational principles. Cuvier had a legendary ability to reconstruct organisms from fragmentary fossils, and many of his reconstructions turned out to be very close to accurate. However, he based his reconstructions on rational principles than on his deep knowledge of comparative anatomy of living organisms. He proved that he could reconstruct fossils in any way, shape, or form he was very advanced in this area.

See Also

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