Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire

Evolution Theorist (1772-1844)

Early Career

Geoffroy was born in Étampes, France on April 15th, 1772. He studied natural philosophy at Collège de Navarre in Paris. In June of 1793, Geoffroy was appointed a professor of Zoology at Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Natural History). In 1794 he met Georges Cuvier, a French naturalist also appointed to the museum. Together they wrote the five memoirs on natural history. This is when Geoffroy became more interested In the field of zoology and evolution.

What is a naturalist?

A naturalist a person who studies natural history, such as studying plants and animals in their environment. They lean towards observational methods more than experimental methods of study.

What is zoology?

Zoology is a branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom. Zoology includes evolution, Geoffroy's major study and interest, classification, embryology, and habits of all animals both living and extinct.

Geoffroy's Theory

Geoffroy was a deist, which means he believes in a God, but also belives in a universe with no supernatural interference and does not interpret the Bible as the literal word of God. Geoffroy conceived a theory of saltational evolution that "monstrosities could become the founding fathers of new species by instantaneous transition from one form to the next."

Accomplishments and Advancements

Phocomelia- a disorder involving malformation of the limbs. (Coined by Geoffroy)

Geoffroy expanded and defended Lamarck's evolutionary theories.

In 1798, Geoffroy was chosen a member of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt.

Conceived Geoffroy's theory.

Appointed a professor of zoology at the French Museum of Natural History.

Wrote five memoirs on natural history.