Cuvier, Georges


Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) was a distinguished French comparative anatomist, palaeontologist and civil servant. He defined major groups of animals (now phyla) with distinct kinds of anatomy; he showed that many fossil vertebrate species are distinct from any known alive, and he thereby helped establish the reality of extinction as a natural process; and he pioneered the reconstruction of individual fossil species and of the history of life as a whole. He regarded the origins of species and episodes of mass extinction as natural events, but was reluctant to speculate on their causes.

Keywords: comparative anatomy; palaeontology; extinction; catastrophism; geohistory

Further Reading

Appel T (1987) The Cuvier‐Geoffroy Debate: French Biology in the Decades before Darwin. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Coleman W (1964) Georges Cuvier Zoologist: A Study in the History of Evolution Theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Corsi P (1988) The Age of Lamarck: Evolutionary Theories in France, 1790‐1830. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Laurent G (1987) Paléontologie et Évolution en France de 1800 à 1860: Une Histoire des Idées de Cuvier et Lamarck à Darwin. Paris: Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques.

Outram D (1984) Georges Cuvier: Vocation, Science and Authority in Post‐Revolutionary Science. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rudwick MJS (1997) Georges Cuvier, Fossil Bones, and Geological Catastrophes: New Translations and Interpretations of the Primary Texts. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

Rudwick MJS (2005) Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Rudwick MJS (2008) Worlds before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith JC (1993) Georges Cuvier: An Annotated Bibliography of his Published Works. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Taquet P (2006) Georges Cuvier: Naissance d'un Génie. Paris: Odile Jacob.

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Rudwick, Martin JS(Sep 2015) Cuvier, Georges. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002393.pub2]