Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

BuffonComte de BuffonLeclerc de BuffonCount Buffonde BuffonGeorges-Louis LeclercGeorges BuffonGeorges-Louis Leclerc de BuffonGeorges-Louis Leclerc, the Comte de Buffonthe Comte de Buffon
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopédiste.wikipedia
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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, one of the top French scientists of the day, mentored Lamarck, and helped him gain membership to the French Academy of Sciences in 1779 and a commission as a Royal Botanist in 1781, in which he traveled to foreign botanical gardens and museums.

Georges Cuvier

CuvierG. CuvierBaron Cuvier
His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier.
He then began frequent visits to the home of a relative, where he could borrow volumes of the Comte de Buffon's massive Histoire Naturelle. All of these he read and reread, retaining so much of the information, that by the age of 12, "he was as familiar with quadrupeds and birds as a first-rate naturalist."

Histoire Naturelle

Histoire naturelle, générale et particulièreHistoire Naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi
Buffon published thirty-six quarto volumes of his Histoire Naturelle during his lifetime; with additional volumes based on his notes and further research being published in the two decades following his death.
The Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi (French for Natural History, General and Particular, with a Description of the King's Cabinet) is an encyclopaedic collection of 36 large (quarto) volumes written between 1749–1804 by the Comte de Buffon, and continued in eight more volumes after his death by his colleagues, led by Bernard Germain de Lacépède.


Georges Louis Leclerc (later Comte de Buffon) was born at Montbard, in the Province of Burgundy to Benjamin Francois Leclerc, a minor local official in charge of the salt tax and Anne-Christine Marlin also from a family of civil servants.
It was acquired by the naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, who was born in Montbard.

Augustin Pajou

Today, only Buffon's cerebellum remains, as it is kept in the base of the statue by Pajou that Louis XVI had commissioned in his honor in 1776, located at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.
Pajou's portrait busts of Buffon and of Madame du Barry (1773), and his statuette of Bossuet (all in the Louvre), are amongst his best works.

Suzanne Curchod

Madame NeckerSuzanne NeckerMme Necker
His heart was initially saved, as it was guarded by Suzanne Necker (wife of Jacques Necker), but was later lost.
Among the regular visitors were Jean-François Marmontel, Jean-François de La Harpe, the Comte de Buffon, the Baron von Grimm, Gabriel Bonnot de Mably, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Antoine Léonard Thomas, and the compilers of the Encyclopédie including Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert.

Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton

DaubentonLouis DaubentonLouis Jean-Marie D’Aubenton (1716-1799)
Those who assisted him in the production of this great work included Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton, Philibert Guéneau de Montbeillard, and Gabriel-Léopold Bexon, along with numerous artists.
At about this time, Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, also a native of Montbard, was preparing to bring out a multi-volume work on natural history, the Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, and in 1742 he invited Daubenton to assist him by providing anatomical descriptions.


This is considered to be the first principle of biogeography.
Closely after Linnaeus, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon observed shifts in climate and how species spread across the globe as a result.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

RousseauJ.-J. RousseauJean Jacques Rousseau
Buffon's Histoire naturelle was translated into many different languages, making him one of the most widely read authors of the day, a rival to Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire.
In fact, Rousseau's natural man is virtually identical to a solitary chimpanzee or other ape, such as the orangutan as described by Buffon; and the "natural" goodness of humanity is thus the goodness of an animal, which is neither good nor bad.

Age of the Earth

formation of the EarthEarthage of Earth
He also suggested that the earth originated much earlier than 4004 BC, the date determined by Archbishop James Ussher.
In 1779 the Comte du Buffon tried to obtain a value for the age of Earth using an experiment: He created a small globe that resembled Earth in composition and then measured its rate of cooling.

French Academy of Sciences

Académie des sciencesAcademy of SciencesRoyal Academy of Sciences
In 1734 he was admitted to the French Academy of Sciences.
?–1788 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

On the Origin of Species

Origin of SpeciesThe Origin of SpeciesOn the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
Charles Darwin wrote in his preliminary historical sketch added to the third edition of On the Origin of Species: "Passing over ... Buffon, with whose writings I am not familiar".
In 1766, Georges Buffon suggested that some similar species, such as horses and asses, or lions, tigers, and leopards, might be varieties descended from a common ancestor.

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo

Lord MonboddoMonboddoJames Burnett
He debated with James Burnett, Lord Monboddo on the relationship of the primates to man, Monboddo insisting, against Buffon, on a close relationship.
Monboddo debated with Buffon regarding man's relationship to other primates.

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach

BlumenbachJ. F. BlumenbachBlumenbach JF
Buffon and Johann Blumenbach were believers in monogenism, the concept that all races have a single origin.
Like other monogenists such as Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Blumenbach held to the "degenerative hypothesis" of racial origins.

Buffon's needle problem

his needlehis needle problemneedle
He first made his mark in the field of mathematics and, in his Sur le jeu de franc-carreau, introduced differential and integral calculus into probability theory; the problem of Buffon's needle in probability theory is named after him.
In mathematics, Buffon's needle problem is a question first posed in the 18th century by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon:


In the opening volumes of the Histoire naturelle Buffon questioned the usefulness of mathematics, criticized Carl Linnaeus's taxonomical approach to natural history, outlined a history of the Earth with little relation to the Biblical account, and proposed a theory of reproduction that ran counter to the prevailing theory of pre-existence.
Buffon and Pierre Louis Moreau also advocated theories to explain this phenomenon.

Struggle for existence

Struggle for SurvivalThe struggle for existence
Buffon wrote about the concept of struggle for existence.
Population increase causing the struggle for existence was given numerical expression by Buffon in 1751.


He developed a system of heredity which was similar to Darwin's hypothesis of pangenesis.
In 1749, French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon developed a hypothetical system of heredity much like Darwin's pangenesis, wherein 'organic molecules' were transferred to offspring during reproduction and stored in the body during development.

Degeneration theory

They both said that Adam and Eve were Caucasian and that other races came about by degeneration from environmental factors, such as the sun and poor diet.
The earliest uses of the term degeneration can be found in the writings of Blumenbach and Buffon at the end of the 18th century, when these early writers on natural history considered scientific approaches to the human species.

Nicolas Desmarest

DesmarestDesmarest, Nicolas
Buffon's Theory of the Earth interested him, and in 1753 he successfully competed for a prize by writing an essay on the ancient connection between England and France.


The Age of Enlightenment was marked by the work of biologist Buffon and chemist Lavoisier, who discovered the role of oxygen in combustion, while Diderot and D'Alembert published the Encyclopédie, which aimed to give access to "useful knowledge" to the people, a knowledge that they can apply to their everyday life.


monogenistmonogenesisenvironmentalist monogenism
Buffon and Johann Blumenbach were believers in monogenism, the concept that all races have a single origin.
The interfertility of human races was debated, applying to human speciation arguments advanced already by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.

Linda Hall Library

Linda Hall Library of Science Library
A collection of high-resolution scans of animal illustrations from several books by Buffon, from the Linda Hall Library
Georges Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi (Paris, 1749–1804).

Jardin des plantes

Jardin du RoiBotanical GardensJardin royal des plantes
Buffon held the position of intendant (director) at the Jardin du Roi, now called the Jardin des Plantes.
The Comte de Buffon became the curator in 1739 and he expanded the gardens greatly, adding a maze, the labyrinth, which remains today.

French people

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopédiste.