Frédéric Cuvier

Georges-Frédéric Cuvier (28 June 1773, Montbéliard, Doubs – 24 July 1838, Strasbourg) was a French zoologist and paleontologist. He was the younger brother of noted naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier.

Frédéric Cuvier
Frédéric Cuvier by Ambroise Tardieu
Frédéric Cuvier
Born28 June 1773
Died24 July 1838 (aged 65)
AwardsMember of the Royal Society
Scientific career
InstitutionsMuséum d'Histoire Naturelle
Author abbrev. (botany)F.Cuvier
Author abbrev. (zoology)F. Cuvier


Frederic was the head keeper of the menagerie at the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris from 1804 to 1838. He named the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) in 1825. The chair of comparative physiology was created for him at the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle in 1837. He was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in 1835.

He is mentioned in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (Chapter VII) as having worked on animal behaviour and instinct, especially the distinction between habit and instinct. He is also mentioned in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (Chapter 32) as having written on the topic of whales.


Cuvier has been described as the first scientist to use terms "héréditaire" (hereditary) in 1807 and "heredity” in 1812 in their now biological context. He used both words in promoting the inheritance of acquired characteristics based on his studies of animal behaviour.[1]

Although an advocate of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, similar to his brother he denied the transmutation of species.[2] He believed that behavioral patterns in animals change over time in relation to environmentally induced needs. Historian Robert J. Richards has written that Cuvier "did not believe that the anatomical patterns of species were modified over time (though he did admit they changed in nonessential ways through the inheritance of acquired characteristics... He was a behavioral evolutionist, if a modest one."[2]

Selected Publications


  • Histoire naturelle des mammifères (4 vols., 1819–1842) (with Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire)
  • De l’histoire naturelle des cétacés. Roret, Paris 1836
  • Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles, Strasbourg & Paris, 60 volumes, under his leadership, 1816-1830
  • Observations préliminaires, pp. i–xxiv in Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, by G. Cuvier, ed. 4, vol. 1. E. d’Ocagne, Paris, 1834.


  • Cuvier, F. (1808). Observations sur le chien des habitans de la Nouvelle-Hollande, précédés de quelques réflexions sur les facultés morales des animaux. Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. 11: 458–476.
  • Cuvier, F. (1812). Essais sur les facultés intellectuelles des brutes. Nouv. Bull. Sci. Soc. Philomat. 3: 217–218


  1. ^ Burkhardt, R. W. (2011). Lamarck, Cuvier, and Darwin on Animal Behavior. In Snait B. Gissis, Eva Jablonka. Transformations of Lamarckism: From Subtle Fluids to Molecular Biology. MIT Press. pp. 33-44.
  2. ^ a b Richards, Robert J. (1987). Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. University of Chicago Press. pp. 65-70. ISBN 0-226-71200-1
  3. ^ IPNI.  F.Cuvier.

Further reading

1804 in birding and ornithology

Jean Hermann ( Johannis Hermann) published Observationes Zoologicae : quibus novae complures, aliaeque animalium species describuntur et illustrantur Argentorati : Amandum Koenig Digital Version

Pope Pius VII established Gabinetto di Zoologia dell'Università Pontificia a natural history museum in Rome.

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon's Histoire naturelle générale et particulière commenced in 1749, completed, sixteen years after his death. It was translated into many European languages and in various forms as Suites à Buffon. Nine of the volumes are devoted to birds.

Frédéric Cuvier begins Dictionnaire des Sciences naturelles, dans lequel on traite méthodiquement des differens Êtres de la Nature ...Par plusiers Professors du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle et des autres principales Écoles de Paris. Strasbourg (Levrault)Paris (Le Normant) 1804, 1805-1806 suspended until 1816


The genus Allactaga contains the four and five-toed jerboas of Asia. They are small mammals belonging to the order of rodents. They are characteristically known as the hopping rodents of the desert and semi-arid regions. They have long hind feet, short forelimbs, and walk upright. They have large ears in comparison to their body size and a large tail. The tail assists and serves as support when the jerboa is standing upright. The jerboa body length ranges from 5–15 cm and has a tail ranging from 7–25 cm. The "forelimbs of the jerboa serve as a pair of hands for feeding, grooming, etc." Jerboas use their nose to burrow and push the dirt when looking for food. The male jerboa is usually larger in size and weight in comparison to the female jerboa. The pelt of the jerboa is either silky or velvety in texture and light in color, the coloration helps camouflage into surroundings to avoid predators. All members of the genus have five toes except for a single species, the Four-toed Jerboa, Allactaga tetradactyla of Northern Africa.

Burton's gerbil

Burton's gerbil (Gerbillus burtoni) is distributed mainly in Darfur, Sudan. Less than 250 individuals of this species of gerbil are thought to persist in the wild. It may have been named after Edward Burton, who had the gerbil in his menagerie, obtained from Darfur and described by Frédéric Cuvier.

Charles Léopold Laurillard

Charles Léopold Laurillard (January 21, 1783 – 1853) was a French zoologist and paleontologist. His father died when he was 13, but he was able continue his studies. In 1803 he moved to Paris, and the following year he met Frédéric Cuvier, brother of Georges Cuvier, who was also a naturalist; they took Laurillard to the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, where he became the personal secretary of Georges Cuvier; he remained at the Museum even after Cuvier's death in 1832. He wrote several works of comparative anatomy and described a number of genera and species.

Cuvier (name)

Cuvier is both a French surname and a given name. Notable people with the name include:


Frédéric Cuvier (1773–1838), French zoologist

Georges Cuvier (1769–1832), French naturalist and zoologist

Sébastien Cuvier (born 1970), French footballerGiven name:

Cuvier Grover (1828–1885), U.S. Union Army officer during the American Civil War


Cynopterus is a genus of megabats. The cynopterine section is represented by 11 genera, five of which occur in Malaysia, namely, Chironx, Balionycteris, Penthetor, Dyacopterus, and Cynopterus. About 30 names for Cynopterus species have been proposed, but only 16 are taxonomically valid forms.Species within this genus are:

Genus Cynopterus

Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (C. brachyotis)

Horsfield's fruit bat (C. horsfieldii)

Peters's fruit bat (C. luzoniensis)

Minute fruit bat (C. minutus)

Nusatenggara short-nosed fruit bat (C. nusatenggara)

Greater short-nosed fruit bat (C. sphinx)

Indonesian short-nosed fruit bat (C. titthaecheilus)

Georges Cuvier

Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, Baron Cuvier (French: [kyvje]; 23 August 1769 – 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.

Cuvier's work is considered the foundation of vertebrate paleontology, and he expanded Linnaean taxonomy by grouping classes into phyla and incorporating both fossils and living species into the classification. Cuvier is also known for establishing extinction as a fact—at the time, extinction was considered by many of Cuvier's contemporaries to be merely controversial speculation. In his Essay on the Theory of the Earth (1813) Cuvier proposed that now-extinct species had been wiped out by periodic catastrophic flooding events. In this way, Cuvier became the most influential proponent of catastrophism in geology in the early 19th century. His study of the strata of the Paris basin with Alexandre Brongniart established the basic principles of biostratigraphy.Among his other accomplishments, Cuvier established that elephant-like bones found in the USA belonged to an extinct animal he later would name as a mastodon, and that a large skeleton dug up in Paraguay was of Megatherium, a giant, prehistoric ground sloth. He named the pterosaur Pterodactylus, described (but did not discover or name) the aquatic reptile Mosasaurus, and was one of the first people to suggest the earth had been dominated by reptiles, rather than mammals, in prehistoric times.

Cuvier is also remembered for strongly opposing theories of evolution, which at the time (before Darwin's theory) were mainly proposed by Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Cuvier believed there was no evidence for evolution, but rather evidence for cyclical creations and destructions of life forms by global extinction events such as deluges. In 1830, Cuvier and Geoffroy engaged in a famous debate, which is said to exemplify the two major deviations in biological thinking at the time – whether animal structure was due to function or (evolutionary) morphology. Cuvier supported function and rejected Lamarck's thinking.

His most famous work is Le Règne Animal (1817; English: The Animal Kingdom). In 1819, he was created a peer for life in honor of his scientific contributions. Thereafter, he was known as Baron Cuvier. He died in Paris during an epidemic of cholera. Some of Cuvier's most influential followers were Louis Agassiz on the continent and in the United States, and Richard Owen in Britain. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.


The genus Kerodon contains two species of South American rock cavies related to capybaras and guinea pigs.

They are found in semi-arid regions of Northeast Brazil known as the Caatinga. This area has a rocky terrain with large granite boulders that contain rifts and hollows where Kerodon primarily lives.


Macroglossus is a genus of megabats (family Pteropodidae) found in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. It has two species:

Long-tongued nectar bat, Macroglossus minimus

Long-tongued fruit bat, Macroglossus sobrinus

Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes

The ménagerie du Jardin des plantes is a zoo in Paris, France, belonging to the botanical garden Jardin des Plantes. It is the second oldest zoological garden in the world (after Tiergarten Schönbrunn). Today it does not have very large animals like elephants, but a lot of rare smaller and medium-sized mammals and a variety of birds and reptiles.


African vlei rats (Otomys), also known as groove-toothed rats, live in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Most species live in marshlands, grasslands, and similar habitats and feed on the vegetation of such areas, occasionally supplementing it with roots and seeds. The name "vlei" refers to the South African term for intermittent, seasonal, or perennial bodies of standing water.

Otomys are compact rodents with a tendency to shorter faces and legs than other types of rats. The tails also are shorter than most Muridae, typically between one third and two thirds of the body length. The coat colour varies according to species, but generally they have the typical agouti brown-to-grey coats typical of mice and other small wild rodents. Species living in warm or temperate regions tend to have unusually large ears for murids (e.g. Otomys irroratus), whereas some of the alpine species, such as Otomys sloggetti have markedly smaller ears. (However, the latter species may no longer belong in the genus Otomys).

Depending on the species adult Otomys have a body length between 12 and 22 cm (5–9 inches) and weigh 90 to 260 grams (3–9 oz).


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Paradoxurus aureus

Paradoxurus aureus, the golden palm civet, also called golden paradoxurus and golden wet-zone palm civet is a viverrid species native to Sri Lanka. It was first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822.


Phacochoerus is a genus in the family Suidae, commonly known as warthogs. It is the sole genus of subfamily Phacochoerinae. They are found in open and semiopen habitats, even in quite arid regions, in sub-Saharan Africa. The two species were formerly considered conspecific under the scientific name Phacochoerus aethiopicus, but today this is limited to the desert warthog, while the best-known and most widespread species, the common warthog (or simply warthog) is Phacochoerus africanus.

Although covered in bristly hairs, their bodies and heads appear largely naked from a distance, with only the crest along the back, and the tufts on their cheeks and tails being obviously haired. The English name refers to their facial wattles, which are particularly distinct in males. They also have very distinct tusks, which reach a length of 25.5 to 63.5 cm (10.0 to 25.0 in) in the males, but are always smaller in the females. They are largely herbivorous, but occasionally also eat small animal food. While both species remain fairly common and widespread, and therefore are considered to be of Least Concern by the IUCN, the nominate subspecies of the desert warthog, commonly known as the Cape warthog, became extinct around 1865.


Plagiodontia is a genus of rodent in the family Capromyidae.

The genus name Plagiodontia means "oblique tooth", and derives from the two ancient greek words πλάγιος (plágios), meaning "placed sideways", and ὀδούς, ὀδόντος (odoús, odóntos), meaning "tooth".

Red-billed brushturkey

The red-billed brushturkey (Talegalla cuvieri) also known as red-billed talegalla or Cuvier's brushturkey, is a large, up to 57 cm long, black megapode with bare yellow facial skin, a reddish orange bill, yellow iris, and orange feet. The head is covered with bristle-like black feathers. The sexes are similar.

An Indonesian endemic, the Red-billed Brushturkey inhabits to lowland forests on Vogelkop Peninsula, western Snow Mountains, and Misool Island of West Papua. It builds nest mound from sticks and leaves.

The scientific name commemorates the French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier.

The red-billed brushturkey is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Sarcophilus is a genus of carnivorous marsupial best known for its only living member, the Tasmanian devil.

There are four species of Sarcophilus. S. laniarius and S. moornaensis are only known from fossils from the Pleistocene. S. laniarius was larger than the contemporary, and only surviving, species S. harrisii, weighing up to 10 kilograms more. The relationship between the four species is unclear; while some have proposed that S. harrisii may be a dwarf version of S. laniarius, others argue that it is a completely different species and that the two may have coexisted during the Pleistocene.


Spermophilus is a genus of ground squirrels in the family Sciuridae (rodents). The genus has been found to be paraphyletic to the certainly distinct prairie dogs, marmots, and antelope squirrels, so it has been split into several genera by Kristofer Helgen and colleagues.

Some Eurasian species are sometimes called susliks (or sousliks). This name comes from Russian суслик, suslik. In some languages, a derivative of the name is in common usage, for example suseł in Polish. The scientific name of this genus means "seed-lovers" (gr. σπέρμα sperma, genitive σπέρματος spermatos – seed; φίλος philos – friend, lover).Ground squirrels may carry fleas that transmit diseases to humans (see Black Death), and have been destructive in tunneling underneath human habitation. Though capable of climbing, most species of ground squirrel live in open, treeless habitats.

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