|Haloquadratum walsbyi||Sitta europaea caesia||Caloboletus calopus||♂Aphyocharax anisitsi|
|♀Brachypelma smithi||Hippopotamus amphibius||Euphorbia leuconeura||Sarcophaga sp. with Tipulidae|
1769–1832. Standard IPNI form: Cuvier
Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (most often published simply as "Georges Cuvier") was a French naturalist and zoologist. He is sometimes referred to as the founding father of paleontology. Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. Cuvier's work is considered the foundation of vertebrate paleontology, and he expanded Linnaean taxonomy by grouping classes into phyla and incorporating both fossils and living species into the classification. Cuvier is also known for establishing extinction as a fact: at the time, extinction was considered by many of Cuvier's contemporaries to be merely controversial speculation.
He is also remembered for strongly opposing theories of evolution, which at the time (before Darwin's theory) were mainly proposed by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Cuvier believed there was no evidence for evolution, but rather evidence for cyclical creations and destructions of life forms by global extinction events such as deluges (outburst flooding).
Cuvier wrote hundreds of scientific papers and books. His most famous work is Le Règne Animal (1816–1817, four tomes; English title The Animal Kingdom). It sets out to describe the natural structure of the whole of the animal kingdom based on comparative anatomy, and its natural history. Cuvier divided the animals into four embranchements ("Branches", roughly corresponding to phyla), namely vertebrates, molluscs, articulated animals (arthropods and annelids), and zoophytes (cnidaria and other phyla).
He is the author of thousands of new taxa, among them well over 5,000 species of fish and molluscs. In 1800 and working only from a drawing, Cuvier was the first to correctly identify in print, a fossil found in Bavaria as a small flying reptile, which he named the Ptero-Dactyle in 1809 (later Latinized as Pterodactylus antiquus).
When the French Academy was preparing its first dictionary, it defined "crab" as "A small red fish which walks backwards." This definition was sent with a number of others to the naturalist Cuvier for his approval. The scientist wrote back: "Your definition, gentlemen, would be perfect, only for three exceptions. The crab is not a fish, it is not red, and it does not walk backwards." In 1819, he was created a peer for life in honour of his scientific contributions and is thereafter known as Baron Cuvier.See also: Distinguished authors of previous months.
Species of the month
Decim Periodical Cicada
Some facts on this insect:
Body length: 28-29 mm.
Eggs deposited by the female: 400-600.
Male song: High-pitched call resembling "weeeee-whoa" or "Pharaoh".
Range: Canada and the United States.
Life-span: 17 years.
First described: By Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758, who originally named it Cicada septendecim.
No insect has more patience than Magicicada septendecim. These cicadas spend 17 years underground, waiting for the proper time. Then, all of a sudden, the mature nymphs emerge synchronously in tremendous numbers. The adults are active for about 4 to 6 weeks, when the males aggregate into chorus centers and attract females for mating. The females puncture the bark of twigs using the blades of a sawlike device at the end of their abdomen and make a pocket in the wood, where they lay their eggs. Hatching occurs six to seven weeks after egg laying. The adults drop dead and the white, antlike nymphs work their way out of the slits and make it to the ground, burrow to about 3 cm beneath the soil surface and stop and await the right time to emerge again. The life cycle is complete, and the cicadas are gone for another 17 years. Magicicada septendecim are devided into broods designated by Roman numerals based on the year they emerge. The numerals I through XVII are assigned to the 17-year broods. For example brood I are called "The Blue Ridge Brood". They last emerged in 1995 and are expected to emerge again in 2012. The periodical cicadas include 7 species: three follow a 17-year cycle and four more species follow a 13-year cycle. They belong to the family Cicadidae which contains about 2,500 species around the world.
See also: Species of previous months