Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 164 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ALCIDE DESSALINES ORBIGNY D' (1802–1857), French palaeontologist, was born at Couerzon, Loire Inferieure, on the 6th of September 1802. He was educated at La Rochelle, where he became interested in the study of natural history, and in particular of zoology and palaeontology. His first appointment was that of travelling naturalist for the Museum of Natural History at Paris. In the course of his duties he proceeded in 1826 to South America, and gathered much information on the natural history and ethnology, the results being embodied in his great work Voyage dons l'Amirique Meridionale (1839-1842). Meanwhile he had decided to devote his time and energies to palaeontology, and he dealt in course of time with various invertebrata from foraminifera to crinoids and mollusca. In 1840 he commenced the publication of Paleontologic Frangaise, ou description des fossiles de la France, a monumental work, accompanied by figures of the species. Eight volumes were published by him dealing with Jurassic and Cretaceous invertebrata, and since his death many later volumes have been issued. (See notes by C. D. Sherborn, " On the Dates of the Paleontologie Francaise of D'Orbigny," Geol. Mag., 1899, p. 223.) Among his other works were Cows elementaire de paleontologie et de geologic stratigraphiques (3 vols., 1849–1852), and Prodrome de paleontologie stritigraphique (3 vols., 1850-1852). D'Orbigny introduced (1852) a methodical system of nomenclature for geological formations based partly on the English terms—thus Bathonian for the Great or Bath Oolite, Bajocian from Bajocea or Bayeux in Calvados for the Inferior Oolite. Many of these names have been widely adopted, but some are of too local application to be generally used. In 1853 he was appointed professor of palaeontology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, but died four years later, on the 3oth of June 1857, at Pierresitte, near St Denis.

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