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History of Geology

Episodes 2023; 46(1): 117-125

Published online March 1, 2023


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Georges Cuvier’s appeal for international collaboration, 1800

Martin J. S. Rudwick*

Honorary Senior Member, IUGS International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO), 2 Welsh Street, Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire SY9 5BT, UK

Correspondence to:E-mail: mjsr100uk@gmail.com

Received: October 31, 2021; Revised: January 10, 2022; Accepted: January 10, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) was one of the most outstanding scientific ‘savants’ of his time. His work on comparative anatomy was dramatically deepened by his study of the bones of fossil mammals and reptiles, many of which he showed were distinct from those of any living species, thereby claiming a major role for extinction in the history of life on Earth. In 1800 he wrote a preliminary report on his research, appealing to others around the world to contribute to it by sending him accurate images of further fossil bones. This appeal was highly successful, and illustrates the character of the international scientific community at the start of the 19th century. Cuvier’s prospectus, given here in English translation, is a landmark of pivotal significance in the history of the Earth sciences.