domingo, abril 04, 2021

A Paleontologia faz hoje 225 anos...!

Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (Montbéliard, 23 August 1769 – Paris, 13 May 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the "founding father of paleontology". Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. 




The Institut de France was founded in the same year, and he was elected a member of its Academy of Sciences. On 4 April 1796 he began to lecture at the École Centrale du Pantheon and, at the opening of the National Institute in April, he read his first paleontological paper, which subsequently was published in 1800 under the title Mémoires sur les espèces d'éléphants vivants et fossiles. In this paper, he analyzed skeletal remains of Indian and African elephants, as well as mammoth fossils, and a fossil skeleton known at that time as the 'Ohio animal'.

Cuvier's analysis established, for the first time, the fact that African and Indian elephants were different species and that mammoths were not the same species as either African or Indian elephants, so must be extinct. He further stated that the 'Ohio animal' represented a distinct and extinct species that was even more different from living elephants than mammoths were. Years later, in 1806, he would return to the 'Ohio animal' in another paper and give it the name, "mastodon".

In his second paper in 1796, he described and analyzed a large skeleton found in Paraguay, which he would name Megatherium. He concluded this skeleton represented yet another extinct animal and, by comparing its skull with living species of tree-dwelling sloths, that it was a kind of ground-dwelling giant sloth.

Together, these two 1796 papers were a seminal or landmark event, becoming a turning point in the history of paleontology, and in the development of comparative anatomy, as well. They also greatly enhanced Cuvier's personal reputation and they essentially ended what had been a long-running debate about the reality of extinction.


in Wikipédia

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