Georges Cuvier, Fossil Bones, and Geological Catastrophes: New Translations & Interpretations of the Primary Texts

By M. J. S. Rudwick; George Cuvier | Go to book overview

5
AN APPEAL FOR INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION

In 1800 Cuvier acquired two new positions, which he held in conjunction with his job at the Muséum. First, he was appointed one of the two secretaries of the scientific class at the Institut. Napoleon Bonaparte, who had made himself First Consul and virtual dictator by the coup d'état of Brumaire ( November 1799), and who fancied himself a patron of all the sciences, chose soon afterward to take a turn as president of the Institut. Cuvier thereby came to know Napoleon personally, a contact that certainly helped his later career in governmental administration. Second, Cuvier was appointed to the prestigious position of professor of natural history at the Collège de France in succession to Daubenton. Not only had death now removed that senior colleague; Napoleon had earlier removed Cuvier's younger colleague Geoffroy, who had joined the team of savants that accompanied his military expedition to Egypt.1 That left Cuvier for the time being in almost undisputed control of vertebrate zoology at the Muséum; although Faujas had also published work on fossil

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1
Its most famous cultural prize was the Rosetta Stone, which later provided the key for deciphering the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt (the stone was captured by the British while still in Egypt, and has been in the British Museum in London ever since). Geoffroy returned to Paris in 1801.

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