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Georges Cuvier, French naturalist

Georges Cuvier, French naturalist

C052/8405

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SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Georges Cuvier (August 23, 1769 - May 13, 1832) was a French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the 'Father of palaeontology'. He originated a system of zoological classification that grouped animals according to the structures of their skeletons and organs. Cuvier extended his system to fossils; his reconstructions of the way extinct animals looked, based on their skeletal remains, greatly advanced the science of palaeontology. He was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century, and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and palaeontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. He is well known for establishing extinction as a fact, being the most influential proponent of catastrophism in geology in the early 19th century. He established the fields of stratigraphy and comparative anatomy. Cuvier made the first thorough, published documentation of faunal succession in the fossil record, making extinction an accepted scientific phenomenon. He died in 1832, at the age of 62, during an epidemic of cholera.

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