Jean Louis Armand De Quatrefages De Breau - Encyclopedia

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JEAN LOUIS ARMAND DE QUATREFAGES DE BREAU (1810-1892), French naturalist, was born at Berthezene, near Vallerangue (Gard), on the 10th of February 1810, the son of a Protestant farmer. He studied medicine at Strassburg, where he took the double degree of M.D. and D.Sc., one of his theses being a Theorie d'un coup de canon (November 1829); next .year he published a book, Sur les aerolithes, and in 1832 a treatise on L'Extraversion de la vessie. Removing to Toulouse, he practised medicine for a short time, and contributed various memoirs to the local Journal de medecine and to the Annales des sciences naturelles (1834-36). But being unable to continue his researches in the provinces, he resigned the chair of zoology to which he had been appointed, and in 1839 settled in Paris, where he found in H. Milne-Edwards a patron and a friend. Elected professor of natural history at the Lycee Napoleon in 1850, he became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1852, and in 1855 was called to the chair of anthropology and ethnography at the Musee d'histoire naturelle. Other distinctions followed rapidly, and continued to the end of his otherwise uneventful career, the more important being honorary member of the Royal Society of London (June 1879), member of the Institute and of the Academie de medecine, and commander of the Legion of Honour (1881). He died in Paris on the 12th of January 1892. He was an accurate observer and unwearied collector of zoological materials, gifted with remarkable descriptive power, and possessed of a clear, vigorous style, but somewhat deficient in deep philosophic insight. Hence his serious studies on the anatomical characters of the lower and higher organisms, man included, will retain their value, while many of his theories and generalizations, especially in the department of ethnology, are already forgotten.

The work of de Quatrefages ranged over the whole field of zoology from the annelids and other low organisms to the anthropoids and man. Of his numerous essays in scientific periodicals, the more important were: Considerations sur les caracteres zoologiques des rongeurs (1840); "De l'organisation des animaux sans vertebres des Cotes de la Manche" (Ann. Sc. Nat., 1844); "Recherches sur le systeme nerveux, l'embryogenie, les organs des sens, et la circulation des annelides" (Ibid.,1844-50); "Sur les affinites et les analogies des lombrics et des sangsues" (Ibid.); "Sur l'histoire naturelle des tarets" (Ibid., 1848-49). Then there is the vast series issued under the general title of "Etudes sur les types inferieurs de l'embranchement des anneles," and the results of several scientific expeditions to the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlands, Italy and Sicily, forming a series of articles in the Revue des deux mondes, or embodied in the Souvenirs d'un naturaliste (2 vols., 1854). These were followed in quick succession by the Physiologie comparee, metamorphoses de l'homme et des animaux (1862); Les Polynesiens et leurs migrations (1866); Histoire naturelle des anneles marins et de l'eau douce (2 vols., 1866); La Rochelle et ses environs (1866); Rapport sur les progres de l'anthropologie (1867); Ch. Darwin et ses precurseurs francais (1870), a study of evolution in which the writer takes somewhat the same attitude as A. R. Wallace, combating the Darwinian doctrine in its application to man; La Race prussienne 0871); Crania Ethnica, jointly with Dr Hamy (2 vols., with loo plates, 1875-82), a classical work based on French and foreign anthropological data, analogous to the Crania Britannica of Thurnam and Davis, and to S. G. Morton's Crania Americana and Crania Aegyptiaca; L'Espece humaine (1877); Nouvelles Etudes sur la distribution geographique des negritos (1882); Hommes fossiles et hommes sauvages (1884); and Histoire generale des races humaines (2 vols., 1886-89), the first volume being introductory, while the second attempts a complete classification of mankind.

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