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Whipple Library

Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Cuvier tome 2 title     Cuvier Hippo

Georges Cuvier,
Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes : où l'on rétablit les caractères de plusieurs espèces d'animaux que les révolutions du globe paroissent avoir détruites.
Tome II

Paris : Chez Deterville, 1812.
Donated by Martin Rudwick. STORE 221:6

The work of Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) had a huge impact on geology, palaeontology and zoology. As professor of comparative anatomy at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, Cuvier had access to rich and varied collections for his research. He used his skills in anatomical dissection and biological drawing to produce his Research on the fossil bones of quadrupeds. By comparing fossil finds with the skeletons of living species, Cuvier established extinction as a fact and argued that species could have been wiped out by natural “revolutions” in the earth’s history. His studies of elephant anatomy for example differentiated between the living species of African and Indian elephants, and showed that fossil mammoths were distinct from both. In the opening essay of his first volume, Cuvier expressed the aspiration to “burst the limits of time” and reveal the deep, pre-human history of the earth. This idea has been central to much of Martin Rudwick’s work.

Cuvier Elephant


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