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Catastrophic theory by Georg Cuvier


Georges de Cuvier (born August 23, 1769, † May 13, 1832)

Georges de Cuvier was born in 1769 as the son of an officer and a housewife in the East French city of Montbйliard. He soon became interested in botanical and zoological topics, but still studied law and economics in Stuttgart. During his many years as a private tutor, he intensified his work on biological topics, especially the comparative anatomy of marine life. Cuvier earned himself a high reputation in France, even without a degree in biology, with several scientific papers. In 1800 he was appointed professor of zoology. Through his meticulous and accurate research on the excavation of fossil life and their temporal classification (stratigraphy) Cuvier is now considered the founder of palaeontology.
Cuvier dominated the so-called Kataklysmentheorie (Greek kataklysmos = flooding theory), which also as catastrophe theory is known. During his geological excavations in France, he came across numerous fossils. The older the finds were, the more they differed from the more recent, that is still living, species. He assumed that the species change was due to individual flood catastrophes. Each of these catastrophes caused the extinction of many regional species. Over time, new species migrated from other parts of the world and changed the regional style.
The Cuvier emanated only from torrential flooding catastrophes, but had no religious reasons: Between the layers with different species he found again and again marine sedimentary rock with fossil snails (molluscs). From this he concluded, falsely, that flooding had led to an abrupt extinction of the species.
Another (mistaken) essential assumption Cuviers is the Artkostanz, which was represented in similar form by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linnй. According to this paradigm, all forms of development are rejected, and it is assumed that animal and plant species are unchanging. Species thus do not originate from each other, but have existed their shape already over the entire Erdzeitgeschichte.
Cuvier's theory from today's perspective:
The catastrophe theory itself is in part compatible with the theory of evolution. Regional as well as global catastrophes do indeed change the style. Thus, the development of mammals would never have gone to such a degree unless a meteorite hit Yucatbn and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The central fallacy in Cuvier's theory, however, is the assumption of the constancy of nature. The assumption of an irrationality of the species contradicts evolution at its core. Cuvier has seen the cause of the change in the nature of the catastrophe itself, and not in the new environmental conditions caused by the catastrophes.