Philippe Taquet

Georges Cuvier Birth of a Genius Publication date : April 28, 2006

Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) was a major scientific figure of the nineteenth century. His work revolutionised our knowledge of nature and of vanished worlds. Philippe Taquet has written the first detailed biography of this famous naturalist.

Born in Montbéliard, in eastern France, he joined the Muséum in 1795. From childhood he showed a great interest in plants, insects, birds, Lavoisier’s chemistry and Linneaus’ botany. Taquet describes Cuvier’s love of hiking to collect specimens, his work as a tutor, and his activities in a small town in Normandy during the Reign of Terror.

The biography draws extensively on much previously unpublished material (field notebooks, manuscripts, letters, herbaria, drawings), which was recently discovered by the author. As a result, Taquet is able to cast a new light on the young naturalist’s education and training, and he reveals here every facet of the man who would be envied and admired as a celebrated, powerful and respected scientist.

This is a new biographical genre. Besides portraying a major scientific figure and bringing his epoch to life, it also re-examines Cuvier’s work in light of recent scientific history. In this book, an eminent contemporary scientist shares with us his view of the crucial years when modern natural science came into its own.

Philippe Taquet is a professor of palaeontology at the Paris Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle and a former director of the Muséum. A member of the French Academy of Sciences, he is a world-renowned expert on dinosaurs and the author of the best-selling L’Empreinte des dinosaures.