Until quite recently, French zoologist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) opposed the biological theory of evolution, and championed the geological theory of catastrophism; but his careful research on fossils helped form and bring credibility to geology and palaeontology, and recent research has proved that his ideas on the importance of mass extinctions and catastrophes were well ahead of their time. In this volume, Martin Rudwick provides the first modern translation of Cuvier's essential writings on fossils and catastrophes, together with two previously unpublished pieces. Rudwick links these translated texts together with his own narrative and interpretive commentary, placing Cuvier's work in its biographical, scientific, and social context. A major feature of this book is a translation of Cuvier's best-known work, the "Preliminary Discourse" (1812). Frequently reprinted and translated, this essay became a key document in 19th-century debates about evolutionary theory, and is still used as source material by many English-speaking historians.
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An extremely important resource20 de enero de 2007
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Formato: Tapa blanda
In April 1796 Georges Cuvier read a paper he had written, entitled Memoir on the Species of Elephants, Both Living and Fossil, to the National Institute in France. Besides establishing that African and Indian elephants were different species, it established that mammoths were a separate species from any living elephant and therefore must be extinct. Thus for the first time establishing the fact of extinction. It is one of the foundation documents of paleontology, and of the 19th century catastrophist school of geology. An argument could be made that it is the most important publication in the history of the natural sciences prior to The Origin of Species. This book has the only English translation of a significant portion of it that I have ever been able to find and it is only one of several texts from Cuvier, Rudwick has translated for this book. Rudwick's comments accompaning the translated texts do a good job of placing them in their proper historical context. This book is obviously not for everyone, but anyone really interested in the historical development of the natural sciences, especially paleontology, zoology and geology will find it fascinating.