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Cuvier, Georges

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Autor: Cuvier, Georges
Rok: 1769-1832
Oblast působnosti: přírodovědci, zoologové, paleontologové

Biogr./Hist. údaje: Francouzský přírodovědec, zoolog, paleontolog, historik věd, profesor anatomie a knižní ilustrátor.
Zdroj: Autoritní databáze Národní knihovny ČR

Georges Cuvier

Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier (French: [kyvje]; 23 August 1769 – 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the "Father of paleontology". Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils.Cuvier's work is considered the foundation of vertebrate paleontology, and he expanded Linnaean taxonomy by grouping classes into phyla and incorporating both fossils and living species into the classification. Cuvier is also known for establishing extinction as a fact—at the time, extinction was considered by many of Cuvier's contemporaries to be merely controversial speculation. In his Essay on the Theory of the Earth (1813) Cuvier was interpreted to have proposed that new species were created after periodic catastrophic floods. In this way, Cuvier became the most influential proponent of catastrophism in geology in the early 19th century. His study of the strata of the Paris basin with Alexandre Brongniart established the basic principles of biostratigraphy.Among his other accomplishments, Cuvier established that elephant-like bones found in the USA belonged to an extinct animal he later would name as a mastodon, and that a large skeleton dug up in Paraguay was of Megatherium, a giant, prehistoric ground sloth. He named the pterosaur Pterodactylus, described (but did not discover or name) the aquatic reptile Mosasaurus, and was one of the first people to suggest the earth had been dominated by reptiles, rather than mammals, in prehistoric times.Cuvier is also remembered for strongly opposing the evolutionary theories of Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Cuvier believed there was no evidence for the evolution of organic forms, but rather evidence for successive creations after catastrophic extinction events.His most famous work is Le Règne Animal (1817; English: The Animal Kingdom). In 1819, he was created a peer for life in honor of his scientific contributions. Thereafter, he was known as Baron Cuvier. He died in Paris during an epidemic of cholera.Some of Cuvier's most influential followers were Louis Agassiz on the continent and in America, and Richard Owen in England. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

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