This book has been designed to make Cuvier's main geological writings accessible to English-speaking readers, not to describe or assess their reception, let alone to offer a biography. Cuvier's later work, and the further history of his Ossemens fossiles, can therefore be summarized very briefly.
Once the Ossemens fossiles was completed, Cuvier immediately turned to the publication of his other magnum opus, his study of the comparative anatomy and classification of the whole animal kingdom ( Règne animal, 1817). In fact, a brief outline of his radically new "map" of the animal kingdom was published in the Annales du Muséum in the same year ( 1812) as the Ossemens fossiles. In place of the traditional dichotomy between animals with and without a backbone, Cuvier proposed a fourfold division that undercut the basis for any linear "scale of beings," and therefore also for any simple transformist or evolutionary explanation of the diversity of organisms. The "Vertebrata" were demoted to become just one of four radically distinct "branches" [embranchements]; or, to put it another way, the invertebrates were split into three great branches, as distinct from one another as each was from the vertebrates. The "Mollusca" contained much the same range of animals as in a modern definition, most of them with external shells. The "Articulata" contained a wide range of segmented animals, including all the arthropods as now defined, together with "worms" of many kinds. The "Radiata" were more of a