Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de

 

Born Sept. 7, 1707, in Montbard; died Apr. 16, 1788, in Paris. French natural scientist. After 1739, director of the botanical garden in Paris.

Buffon’s principal work was Histoire naturelle (36 vols., 1749-88), in which he described the many varieties of animals and set forth a thesis of the unity of the plant and animal world. In contrast to C. Linnaeus, who in his classification defended the concept of the permanency of species, Buffon expressed progressive ideas concerning the mutability of species under the influence of environmental conditions (such as climate and nutrition). In the field of geology Buffon systematized the factual material known at that time and developed a number of theoretical problems concerning the development of the globe and its surface. In the first, geological, volume of Histoire naturelle, entitled Theory of the Earth (1749), Buffon advanced the hypothesis of the formation of the earth as a fragment that had been torn away from the sun by a comet that had fallen into it. The earth had then gradually cooled down to its very center. Buffon exaggerated the importance of the ocean’s geological activity and underestimated the volcanic phenomena and tectonic movements in the history of the earth. He was also the creator of a hypothesis concerning the development of the earth and its surface.

WORKS

Les époques de la nature (suite). Paris, 1913.
In Russian translation:
Vseobshchaia i chastnaia estestvennaia istoriia, parts 1-10. St. Petersburg, 1802-27.

REFERENCES

Marakuev, V. N. Znamenitye estestvoispytateli: Linnei, Biuffon, Pallas i Kiuv’e Moscow, 1874.
Kanaev, I. I. Zhorzh Lui Leklerk de Biuffon. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
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