Etienne Saint-Hilaire, French Naturalist


Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (April 15, 1772 - June 19,1844) was a French naturalist who established the principle of unity of composition. He was a colleague of Lamarck and expanded and defended Lamarck's evolutionary theories. Geoffroy's scientific views had a transcendental flavor. He believed in the underlying unity of organismal design, and the possibility of the transmutation of species in time, amassing evidence for his claims through research in comparative anatomy, paleontology, and embryology. In 1798, Geoffroy was chosen a member of Napoleon's great scientific expedition to Egypt as part of the natural history and physics section of the Institut d'Egypte. He was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences in September 1807. In 1809 he was made professor of zoology at the faculty of sciences at Paris, and devoted himself to anatomical study. Geoffroy was a deist, which is to say that he believed in a God, but also in a law-like universe, with no supernatural interference in the details of existence. In 1840, he became blind, and had a paralytic attack. From that time his strength gradually failed him. He died in 1844 at the age of 72.


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