Baron Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (1769-1832) was a significant naturalist and zoologist. He compared living animals with fossils and thus helped to establish the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology.
In the early Nineteenth Century he argued against prevailing early evolutionary theories that no species had become extinct because God’s creation was faultless.
He is remembered for having been a strong proponent of catastrophism – the theory that geological features and the history of animal life could be explained by catastrophic events that had caused the extinction of several species.
The Animal Kingdom, with the exception of ‘Insects’ is all his own work and represents the body of his research into the structure of living and fossilized animals. It became a classic text, translated many times and updated as knowledge increased.
The engraving depicts lemurs, classified as Quadrumana – the second order of Mammalians.