• Alcide Charles Victor Marie Dessalines d'Orbigny


    Was a great French naturalist. He made major contributions in many areas, including zoology, malacology, palaeontology, geology, archaeology and anthropology.

    D'Orbigny was born September 6, 1802 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.

    Between 1826 and 1833, D'Orbigny traveled, on a mission for the Paris Museum, to South America. 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 inLa 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. In 1840, d'Orbigny started the methodical description of French fossils and published La Paléontologie Française (8 vols).

    Dictionnaire universel d'histoire naturelle. Résumant et complétant tout les faits présentés par les encyclopédies, les anciens dictionnaires scientifiques, les oeuvres complètes de Buffon ... Par Messieurs Arago, Audouin, Bazin, Becquerel, Bibron, Blanchard ... Valenciennes, etc. Ouvrage ... enrichi d'un atlas [en trois volumes] de planches gra...

    Published between 1840-149 was a great collaborative effort of some fifty leading, in particular French, scholars, among them François Arago, Adolphe Théodore Brongniart, Alexander von Humboldt, Henry Milne-Edwards, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Adrien de Jussieu, and of numerous artists specializing in natural history, engravers, and printers. set with all 288 steel-engraved and hand-colored or tinted plates. Orbigny's extraordinary work, containing almost 10,000 pages of text, "The plates in this remarkable work render it the best illustrated encyclopaedia of natural history" . A large portion of the engravings were after the drawings of Emile Blanchard (1819-1900); the ornithological plates were entirely drawn by Edouard Traviès (1809-1868).

    In 1849 he published another major work, Prodrome de Paléontologie Stratigraphique. In this book he described almost 18,000 species.

    In 1853 he became professor of palaeontology at the Paris Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. The chair of paleontology was created especially in his honor.

    He described as first the geological timescales. He defined numerous geological strata, still used today . He died June 30, 1857 in the small town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.

    The following genera and species were named in his honor :

    Nerocila orbignyi (Guérin, 1832)

    Alcidia Bourguignat, 1889

    Ampullaria dorbignyana Philippi, 1851

    Pinna dorbignyi Hanley, 1858

    Haminoea orbignyana A. de Férussac, 1822

    Pink Cuttlefish, Sepia orbignyana Férussac, 1826