French palaeontologist and zoologist (1769 - 1832)
A famous French palaeontologist and zoologist, it was Cuvier who showed
the diluvial man (or ‘Noah's flood man') to be a giant salamander.
Cuvier was born in a small village in the Jura Mountains, and studied in Stuttgart. He then earned a living as a teacher in Normandy until he was invited to be assistant in animal anatomy, and later professor in the same subject, at the newly established Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. During and after the Napoleonic period, he help many important governmental posts, such as inspector of education. He was knighted several times.
Cuvier was the first to provide factual proof of the extinction of animal species. He believed that the earth was extremely old, and that as a general rule, while life always proceeded as it does today, there were sometimes 'revolutions', in which groups of plants and animals died out. These 'revolutions' were natural disasters.