“Why has not anyone seen that fossils alone gave birth to a theory about the formation of the earth, that without them, no one would have ever dreamed that there were successive epochs in the formation of the globe?” - Baron Georges Cuvier
Born Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier in 1769 in Montbeliard, France (at the time under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Wurttemberg), Baron Cuvier’s writings and research have contributed more to science than could ever be listed.
A naturalist and zoologist by training, his most significant contributions to natural sciences were the establishment of the fields of vertebrate paleontology and comparative anatomy. Though he disbelieved in the theories of his predecessors/contemporaries Lamarck and Saint-Hillaire (who posited some of the first hypotheses of evolution), his establishing of extinction as fact was ironically one of the most significant steps towards Darwin’s theories.
Stay tuned throughout the day for more facts and trivia about one of the most prolific and important naturalists in history, presented with just a tiny fraction of his thousands of illustrations…
You call it lazy, I call it a celebration of the inspirational husband/wife team of John and Elizabeth Gould.
Even though Elizabeth died before her husband did his work on mammals and before his works were mentioned by Darwin, she was a major part of John Gould’s observations and research. Over 600 of the lithographs in John Gould’s work were Elizabeth’s art, including the newly-classified (by her husband) finches that Charles Darwin gave to the Goulds for classification input, and later used to both develop his theory of natural selection and illustrate his concepts in On the Origin of Species. Even though John Gould is mentioned as a direct influence by Darwin and Elizabeth was not (subsequently allowing her work to be almost completely eclipsed by her husband’s), his wife’s work was still important, lovely, and generated a lot of public interest in birds both domestic and foreign.
Edward Lear did the mammalian lithographs and a few bird lithographs (the post-1841 works), but all of the pre-1841 birds (the majority of them) were Elizabeth’s work.
So yeah. Birds today. And keep Elizabeth’s hard and skilled work in mind. She did all this in the middle of taking care of 8 children (she had no nanny while in Australia with her 4 oldest children, who were quite young at the time). She was one awesome possum.
John Gould, 1840
Elizabeth Gould with Australian cockatiel, memorial oil painting, produced shortly after her death