Monday, 3 August 2009
(September 6, 1802 - June 30, 1857) was a French naturalist. He made major contributions in many areas, including zoology, malacology, palaeontology, geology, archaeology and anthropology.
D'Orbigny was born in Couëron (Loire-Atlantique), the son of a ship's physician and amateur naturalist. The family moved to La Rochelle in 1820, where his interest for natural history was raised, while studying the marine fauna and especially microscopic creatures, that he named "foraminiferans".
In Paris he became a disciple of the geologist L.-A. Cordier (1777-1861) and Georges Cuvier. All his life, he would follow the theory of Cuvier and stay opposed to Lamarckism.
D'Orbigny travelled, on a mission for the Paris Museum, in South America between 1826 and 1833. He visited Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. He returned to France with an enormous collection of more than 10,000 natural history specimens. He described part of his findings in La Relation du Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale. His contemporary, Charles Darwin called this book "one of the great monuments of science in the 19th century". The other specimens were described by zoologists at the museum.