Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Cuvier, Georges Léopold Chrétien Fréderic Dagobert

French comparative anatomist and favorite of Napoleon; one of few Royalists to survive the French Revolution. Cuvier publicly rejected Lamarck’s transmutation ideas; he cited instead, with Adam Sedgwick, various versions of catastrophism (Noachian deluge) and posited that fresh rounds of Divine Creation renewed life after every catastrophy. Possessed of a complex intellect, Cuvier recognized and named fossils such as the Mosasaur and the Pterodactyl, and his law of correlation recognized that an entire animal could be identified and reconstructed from a few fragments. After collapsing Amerindians into the Linnaean Asiatic group, Cuvier recognized only three human races. Considered the founder of zoology, comparative anatomy, and paleontology.

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