Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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


Marakuev, V. N. Znamenitye estestvoispytateli: Linnei, Biuffon, Pallas i Kiuv’e Moscow, 1874.
Kanaev, I. I. Zhorzh Lui Leklerk de Biuffon. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The author delves into the extraordinary circumstances whereby the Jardin du Roi in Paris, preeminent in the field of natural history during the long tenure of intendant Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1739-1788), was transformed into the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in the turbulent revolutionary era.
The first important scientist to speculate openly on evolution was the French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707-1788).