Who is Georges Cuvier?June 25, 2021
(1769-1832) French scientist.
Having proven his talent in natural history at a young age, Georges Cuiver was admitted to Stuttgart academy college as a scholarship student at the age of fifteen. After completing his studies, he started working as an educator with the Héricy family in Caen and had the opportunity to study the coastal animal community. In 1795, he came into contact with Parisian scientists, notably Êtienne Goeffroy Saint-Hilaire, director of the Jardin des Plantes. Transported to Paris through Saint-Hilaire, he rose rapidly in his profession: he taught at the Muséum and the College de France; He became an inspector of the Ministry of National Education, a member and permanent secretary of the Academy of Sciences, a member of the French Academy (1818); He was given the title of baron and made a member of the Supreme Council.
Before Cuvier, the founder of comparative anatomy and scientific paleontology, concepts about fossils were vague and led to interpretations that had no support whatsoever. Cuvier was the first scientist to prove that fossils were the remains of extinct animals and to redefine their appearance and way of life (his contemporaries were greatly influenced by his determination of the appearance of mammals unearthed in the gypsum of Montmartre). Basing his work in determining the outward appearance of fossils on the principle of the interrelationship of organs, he put forward this principle in 1825: A living thing is a whole whose “body parts correspond to each other”: “Each part taken separately denotes and forms other parts.” For example, carnivorous mammals have stomachs that can digest meat, nails that can catch prey, incisors, strong chewing muscles, and so on.
In the light of his discoveries in the field of paleontology, Cuvier divided the history of the earth into 4 parts, but did not mention the evolutionary idea applied by his contemporary Lamarck. According to Cuvier, all animals are descended from a single divine creature, and all lived in all ages; but “radical changes in the earth” (floods, drying up of the seas, etc.) destroyed the animal communities in certain regions and these animals were replaced by animals from other places. As we have seen, the theory of the succession of living things was mistakenly attributed to Cuvier; Today, it is thought that some of the ideas in his works that evoke evolutionist views were formed under the influence of the Protestant faith. However, taken in its entirety, Cuvier, who made very important contributions to biology, studied physiology, ecology, biochemistry, etc. It also included many modern views in the fields.