Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 291–319

Henri de Blainville and the animal series: A nineteenth-century chain of being

  • Toby A. Appel
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References

  1. 1.
    Henri Marie Ducrotayde Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l'organisation et de leurs progrès comme base de la philosophie, ed. F. L. M. Maupied, 3 vols. (Paris: Jacques Lecoffre, 1858), I, ii.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  7. 7.
    Blainville appears to have been a most difficult man to get along with. Compared by his biographers to Molière's misanthrope, Alceste, Blainville spent his later years buried behind a pile of books in his office and rarely spoke to anyone. See Pol Nicard, “Etude sur la vie et les travaux de M. de Blainville”, in Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, Ostéographie, ou description iconographique comparée du squellette et du système dentaire des mammifères recents et fossiles pour servir de base à la zoologie et à la géologie, (Paris: J. B. Bailliere, 1839–1864), pp. clx, clxiv; and Flourens, “Eloge”, p. xxii.Google Scholar
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    The major results of this research were Manuel de malacologie et de conchyliologie, 2 vols. (Paris: F. G. Levrault, 1825–1827); Mémoire sur les bélemnites considerées zoologiquement et géologiquement (Paris: F. G. Levrault, 1827); “Vers”, Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles, 57 (1828), 365–625; and “Zoophytes”, ibid., 60 (1830), 1–546, later published separately as Manuel d'actinologie ou de zoophytologie, 2 vols. (Paris: F. G. Levrault, 1834).Google Scholar
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    Blainville's letter to Lamarck (undated) is published Pol Nicard, “Etude sur la vie et les travaux de M. de Blainville”, in Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, Ostéographie, ou description iconographique comparée du squellette et du système dentaire des mammifères recents et fossiles pour servir de base à la zoologie et à la géologie, (Paris: J. B. Bailliere, 1839–1864), pp. lxxiv-lxxxvi.Google Scholar
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    The politics of this election are discussed in Pol Nicard, “Etude sur la vie et les travaux de M. de Blainville”, in Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, Ostéographie, ou description iconographique comparée du squellette et du système dentaire des mammifères recents et fossiles pour servir de base à la zoologie et à la géologie, (Paris: J. B. Bailliere, 1839–1864), pp. lxxxiv-lxxxix.Google Scholar
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    For Blainville's evaluation of Lamarck's work, see Henri Marie Ducrotayde Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l'organisation et de leurs progrès comme base de la philosophie, ed. F. L. M. Maupied, (Paris: Jacques Lecoffre, 1858), III, 411–466. quotation on p. 463. Summing up Lamarck's scientific achievements, Blainville wrote: “He has felt and often proved the animal series, the series of the creation” (ibid., III, 527).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Oken's work is analyzed in Henri Marie Ducrotayde Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l'organisation et de leurs progrès comme base de la philosophie, ed. F. L. M. Maupied, (Paris: Jacques Lecoffre, 1858), III, 466–514, 527–528.Google Scholar
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    Georges Cuvier, Le règne animal, 4 vols. (Paris: Déterville, 1817), I, xxi. Yet even Cuvier continued to arrange animals in a rough serial order. Cuvier's ordering of mammals in particular was not very different from Blainville's serial arrangement of mammals.Google Scholar
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    Georges Cuvier, “Nature”, Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles, 34 (1825), 261–268, quotation on p. 266.Google Scholar
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  36. 36.
    Henri Marie Ducrotayde Blainville, “Prodrome d'une nouvelle distribution systematique du règne animal”, Journal de Physique, 83 (1816), pp. 246–247 and Table 1. Blainville established the articulo-mollusks by 1814, well before his break with Cuvier, although they were then still included within the mollusks. Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, “Sur la classification méthodique des animaux mollusques, et établissement d'une nouvelle considération pour y parvenir,” Bull. Soc. Philomat., 1814, pp. 175–180.Google Scholar
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    Ibib., pp. 247, 257, 266.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 246–247. By some, Blainville was considered the first to employ the term “type” as a zoological taxon. See Julius Victor Carus, Histoire de la zoologie depuis l'antiquité jusqu'au XIX siècle, trans. P. O. Hagenmuler (Paris: J. B. Baillière, 1880), p. 300.Google Scholar
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    On Geoffroy and the concept of homology, see Appel, “Cuvier-Geoffroy Debate,” chap. 3, and Edward Stuart Russell, Form and Function: A Contribution to the History of Animal Morphology (New York: Dutton, 1917), chap. 5. Actually, Geoffroy used the term “analogy,” but he used it in the way we now use “homology.” The modern clarification of the terms “homology” and “analogy” is due to Richard Owen. See Russell, Form and Function, p. 108.Google Scholar
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    Geoffroy came to the controversial conclusion that the bones of the operculum in fish corresponded to the tiny bones of the inner ear (the malleus, stapes, and incus) of mammals. Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Philosophie anatomique: des organes respiratoires sous le rapport de la détermination et de l'identité de leurs pièces osseuses (Paris: J. B. Baillière, 1818; reprint ed., Brussels; Culture et Civilisation, 1968), pp. 15–30.Google Scholar
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    Henri Hollard, Leçon faite le 28 mai à la Faculté des Sciences pour la reprise du cours de zoologie interrompu par le mort de M. Blainville (Paris: Labé, 1850), pp. 19–20; Nicard, “Etude sur M. de Blainville,” p. clxxiv.Google Scholar
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    Richard Owen more explicitly denied the possibility of explaining morphological patterns by strict teleological reasoning. He and a number of other zoologists came to regard homologies as examples of a higher teleology. See Dov Ospovat, “Perfect Adaptation and Teleological Explanation: Approaches to the Problem of the History of Life in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Stud. Hist. Biol., 2 (1978), 33–56, esp. 36, 49.Google Scholar
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    Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, Dissertation sur la place que la famille des ornithorynques et des échidnés doit occuper dans les series naturelles (Paris: Lebéque, 1812), p. 101. It was this dissertation that Blainville presented for the competition to obtain the chair at the Faculty of Sciences.Google Scholar
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    Blainville had read Lyell, whose work he declared to be “the only summary which is in the least conformable to the state of the science [of geology]” (Histoire des sciences, III, 405–406). As Flourens pointed out, Blainville nowhere offered a clear summary of his paleontological views. Rather, his doctrine has to be pieced together from scattered statements in his Ostéographie and other post-1830 writings. He does not seem to have advocated a single creation in the 1820s, for there is no hint of it in his Mémoire sur les bélemnites. There, Blainville argued that the order of appearance of belemnites in fossil strata mirrored the serial classification of belemnites. On Blainville's paleontological views, see Histoire des sciences, III, 390–411; Nicard, “Etude sur M. de Blainville,” pp. cvii–cviii, cx, clxxxii–clxxxv; Flourens, “Eloge,” pp. xvi–xxi, xxxvi–xli; and Flouren's review of Blainville's Ostéographie (see note 97 below).Google Scholar
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    Henri Marie Ducrotayde Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l'organisation et de leurs progrès comme base de la philosophie, ed. F. L. M. Maupied, (Paris: Jacques Lecoffre, 1858), III, 398. Blainville first presented a memoir on the dodo to the Académie des Sciences in 1830. He became interested in the subject, he explained, because he wished to show “that an animal could disappear from the number of beings currently living, in our day, almost under our eyes, without need of any catastrophe other than the thoughtless greed of the human species and his extension into a part of the world to which this bird seemed to be limited” (Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, “Mémoire sur le dodo, autrement dronte [Didus ineptus, L.],” Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Nouvelles Annales, 4 [18350, 1–35, quotation on pp. 1–2). At that time, Blainville left open the possibility that the dodo might still exist.Google Scholar
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    Blainville had argued in 1827 that the belemnites filled a lacuna in the series between the cuttlefish and the orthocera. (Mémoire sur les bélemnites, pp. 31, 105.)Google Scholar
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    See note 5. This work, which was left incomplete, was published in installments, each paginated separately.Google Scholar
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    Blainville, Ostéographie, “De l'ancienneté des primates à la surface de la terre,” pp. 1–68; Nicard, “Etude sur M. de Blainville,” p. cvii; Pierre Flourens, review of Blainville, Ostéographie, in Journal des Savants, 1851, pp. 280–281. On the relation between paleontological data and paleontological theory, see Peter J. Bowler, Fossils and Progress: Paleontology and the Idea of Progressive Evolution in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Science History Publications, 1976).Google Scholar
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    Flourens, review of Ostéographie, Journal des Savants, 1851, pp. 123, 275–281. Flourens wrote: “M. Cuvier has devoted a great work to distinguishing between fossil species and living species. M. Blainville has devoted a work no less grand to reducing living species to fossil species. What another great work would have to be done to pronounce between M. de Blainville and M. Cuvier!” (p. 279). In another example, Blainville identified all the variously named fossil bears found in Europe up to this time with the living species. See Académie des Sciences, Comptes Rendus, 12 (1841), 228–233.Google Scholar
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    Pol Nicard, “Etude sur la vie et les travaux de M. de Blainville,” in Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, Ostéographie, ou description iconographique comparée du squellette et du système dentaire des mammifères recents et fossiles pour servir de base à la zoologie et à la géologie, 4 vols. (Paris: J. B. Bailliere, 1839–1864), pp. lxxvii, lxxx, cxi, cxii, clii, clx, clxi; Toby A Appel, “Souleyet,” Dictionary of Scientific Biography, XII, 550–551; William Coleman, “Gratiolet,” Dictionary of Scientific Biography, V, 504–506. Henri Hollard wrote a textbook based on Blainville's doctrine of the animal series that he dedicated to his master: Nouveaux éléments de zoologie, ou étude du règne animal disposé en série et marchant des espèces inférieurs aux supérieurs (Paris: Labé, 1839). See also Hollard's analysis of Blainville's work (note 48 above).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toby A. Appel
    • 1
  1. 1.Charles Willson Peale Papers National Portrait GallerySmithsonian InstitutionWashington, D. C.USA

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