Famous French Naturalists

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 1 
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
(Naturalist and Biologist Best Known for Proposing that Acquired Characteristics can be Inherited.)
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1744
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bazentin, France
Died: December 18, 1829

French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck acquired his love for plants while serving as a soldier in the French army. Following an injury, he quit his military career but retained his love for botany. He later taught zoology, studied the classification of invertebrates, and also coined the term biology.

 2 
Georges Cuvier
(French Naturalist and Zoologist Known for Establishing the Field of 'Comparative Anatomy' and 'Paleontology')
Georges Cuvier
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Doubs, France
Died: May 13, 1832

Georges Cuvier was a French zoologist and naturalist. A major figure in the early 19th century's research of natural sciences, Cuvier played an important role in establishing the fields of comparative paleontology and anatomy by comparing fossils with living animals, for which he is sometimes regarded as the founding father of paleontology.

 3 
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
(French Mathematician, Cosmologist Encyclopédiste and One of the First Naturalists to Recognize Ecological Succession)
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
4
Birthdate: September 7, 1707
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montbard, France
Died: April 16, 1788

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French mathematician, encyclopédiste, cosmologist, and naturalist. He is best known for authoring and publishing Histoire Naturelle, an encyclopaedic collection of 36 volumes, which he worked on for 50 years. His work had a strong influence on two subsequent generations of naturalists, including popular French scientists like Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

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 4 
Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
(French Naturalist Who Is Known for Establishing the Principle of 'Unity of Composition')
Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Étampes, France
Died: June 19, 1844

French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire is best remembered for his principle of unity of composition. He also laid down the idea of teratology, or the study of animal abnormalities. He was also part of Napoleon’s scientific expedition in Egypt and later taught zoology at the University of Paris.

 5 
Bernard Germain de Lacépède
(French Naturalist Known for Continuing Comte de Buffon's Encyclopaedic Collection 'Histoire Naturelle')
Bernard Germain de Lacépède
3
Birthdate: December 26, 1756
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agen, France
Died: October 6, 1825

French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède is best known for his contribution to fellow French naturalist Comte de Buffon's Histoire Naturelle. He enriched the world’s knowledge of fishes and reptiles. Following the rise of Napoleon, Lacépède joined the French Senate and later became a minister of Bourbon state.

 6 
Henri Mouhot
(French Naturalist Who Explored Angkor and Informed the Western World about It)
Henri Mouhot
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1826
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montbéliard, France
Died: November 10, 1861

French naturalist and explorer Henri Mouhot started his career as a professor of philology and travelled throughout Europe. With the help of British academic societies, he went on a mission to Indochina. He is best known for informing the Western world of the ruins of Angkor.

 7 
Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix
(French Priest and Historian)
Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1682
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin, France
Died: February 1, 1761

Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix was a French Jesuit priest and historian, often considered the first historian of New France. He was ordained as a priest in 1713. He was a wide traveler with an eager curiosity to learn about his surroundings. He traveled to Canada and explored the region for a few years before returning to France. 

 8 
Pierre Belon
(French Naturalist and Traveller Known for Reviving Natural History in the 16th Century)
Pierre Belon
2
Birthdate: 1517 AD
Birthplace: near Mans, Le, France
Died: March 31, 1564

French naturalist Pierre Belon initially studied botany and then set out on an exploration of eastern Mediterranean countries. Throughout his illustrious career, he illustrated, classified, and described many marine animals and birds, but he is best remembered for his study of dolphin embryos, which contributed to the domain of embryology.

 9 
Théodore Monod
(French Naturalist and Academician Who Spent His Whole Life Exploring Natural Species in the Sahara)
Théodore Monod
2
Birthdate: April 9, 1902
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: November 22, 2000

A professor at Paris’s National Museum of Natural History, French naturalist Théodore Monod founded the cultural institute IFAN in Senegal. He spent a huge chunk of his life studying natural life in the Sahara and had several plant, insect, crustaceans, and fish species named after him.

 10 
Alexandre Brongniart
(French Mineralogist and Geologist Who First Arranged the Geologic Formations of the Tertiary Period in Chronological Order)
Alexandre Brongniart
1
Birthdate: February 5, 1770
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 7, 1847

Best known for exploring the geology of the Tertiary Period, Alexandre Brongniart initially taught natural history and then became a professor of mineralogy. He also worked for the development of porcelain enameling in France. His other works include a classification of reptiles and the introduction of geologic dating.

 11 
Alcide d'Orbigny
(French Paleontologist Known for His Pathbreaking Exploration of South American Natural History)
Alcide d'Orbigny
1
Birthdate: September 6, 1802
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Coueron, France
Died: June 30, 1857

Alcide d'Orbigny is regarded as the founder of micropaleontology. The French paleontologist traveled for 8 years throughout South America, exploring its natural history and geology. His study of marine fossils, sedimentary rocks, and pollen was accompanied by his iconic written work Paléontologie française. He supported the theory of catastrophism.

 12 
Paul-Émile Botta
(Italian-Born French Archaeologist Who Discovered the Ruins of the Assyrian Capital of 'Dur-Sharrukin')
Paul-Émile Botta
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1802
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: March 29, 1870

The son of a renowned Italian historian, Italian-born French archaeologist Paul-Émile Botta was chosen as a consul at Mosul, modern-day Iraq. While he initially excavated relics of Assyrian king Sargon II's palace, he later mistakenly believed he had discovered Nineveh. One shipment of the antiquities he unearthed was sunk in transit.

 13 
Félix Archimède Pouchet
(French Naturalist Who Believed in Spontaneous Generation of Life from Non-Living Matter)
Félix Archimède Pouchet
1
Birthdate: August 26, 1800
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: December 6, 1872

Félix Archimède Pouchet, the father of French naturalist Georges Pouchet, is remembered for his belief in the spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter, a theory that was discarded after Louis Pasteur proved that microorganisms existed in the air. A professor and a naturalist, he penned the iconic work Hétérogénie.

 14 
Guillaume Rondelet
(French Naturalist, Physician and Regius Professor of Medicine)
Guillaume Rondelet
1
Birthdate: September 27, 1507
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: July 30, 1566

Guillaume Rondelet was a renowned French naturalist and physician of the 16th century. Best known for his detailed descriptions of marine animals in his book Libri de Piscibus Marinis, he also taught anatomy at the University of Montpellier. He also conducted research on medicinal drugs and their preparation.

 15 
Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton
(French Naturalist and a Pioneer in the Fields of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology)
Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton
1
Birthdate: May 29, 1716
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montbard, France
Died: January 1, 1800

While Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton was sent to Paris to study theology, he ended up studying medicine instead and later became a pioneering naturalist. He taught natural history and zoology and contributed immensely to the domains of comparative anatomy and paleontology. He also contributed to Georges Buffon’s Histoire naturelle.

 16 
Bernard de Jussieu
(French Botanist Remembered for Introducing His Own System of Plant Classification)
Bernard de Jussieu
1
Birthdate: August 17, 1699
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: November 6, 1777

While renowned French botanist Bernard de Jussieu initially studied medicine, he later found a job as a plant demonstrator at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. He eventually established a method of plant classification. He was the brother of botanists Antoine and Joseph de Jussieu.

 17 
Antoine de Jussieu
(French Botanist Who Founded a Natural System of Plant Classification)
Antoine de Jussieu
1
Birthdate: July 6, 1686
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: April 22, 1758

Starting his career as a botany demonstrator at the Jardin du Roi, French botanist Antoine de Jussieu later went on to establish his own principles of plant classification. He also taught at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and practiced medicine, mostly treating the poor and the needy.

 18 
Jean-Étienne Guettard
(Geologist and Mineralogist Known for His Pioneering Geological Survey of France)
Jean-Étienne Guettard
1
Birthdate: September 22, 1715
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Étampes, France
Died: January 7, 1786

Apart from recognizing the volcanic nature of central France’s Auvergne district, French geologist and mineralogist Jean-Étienne Guettard also wrote extensively on the geological aspects of the terrains of France and England. He was the first to make a geological survey of France and study the Paris Basin bedrock.

 19 
Antoine-Alfred Marche
(French Naturalist and Explorer Known for His Collection of Various African Artifacts)
Antoine-Alfred Marche
0
Birthdate: February 15, 1844
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boulogne, France
Died: August 31, 1898
Apart from visiting Africa on 4 separate expeditions, French naturalist Antoine-Alfred Marche also visited places such as the Philippine Islands and the Mariana Islands. He had a huge collection of ethnological artifacts and bird specimens. His achievements got him the Legion d'Honneur. The scientific names of several birds bear his name.