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GARY BROWN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY BROWN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comte de Buffon (1707-1788), French naturalist. Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, was keeper of the French botanical gardens, and published the first of 36 volumes of his 'Natural History' in 1749. In it, Buffon proposed evolutionary ideas. He noted that some creatures had parts that were useless to them and wrongly deduced that parts, and maybe whole animals, might degenerate. He also thought that the Earth was formed by the collision of a large body with the Sun and that it might be up to 75,000 years old, rather than the 6000 years in the Bible. Condemned by theologists, he was still the most widely read author of natural history in the 18th century.
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