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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.