“THE FIRST TRULY COMPLETE WORK IN THE HISTORY OF COMPARATIVE ANATOMY”
CUVIER, Georges. Lecons d’Anatomie Comparee. Paris: Baudouin, An VIII (1800-05). Five volumes. Octavo, contemporary half navy calf gilt rebacked with original spines laid down, marbled boards and endpapers. $2000.
First edition of this founding work of modern comparative zoology, illustrated with seven large folding tables and 52 engraved plates.
Cuvier (1769-1832) reorganized the comparative anatomy collections of the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle-at the time the world’s largest establishment dedicated to scientific research. The huge museum menagerie furnished Cuvier with invaluable specimens for dissection and anatomical preparations of mammals, birds, fish and fossils (DSB). “Cuvier’s Leçons was the first truly complete work in the history of comparative anatomy. Whereas his predecessors had at best applied comparison to select groups of animals, Cuvier consistently attempted to employ it in his study of every known animal or species. Comparative anatomy became for Cuvier an essential segment of the theoretical basis of natural history… Comparative anatomy is therefore the division of the natural sciences which tends to generalize, to erect the theory of organization” (Coleman, 62; Norman Library 565). Volume I contains the principal discussion of Cuvier’s famous theory of the correlation of parts (the functional relationship of each bodily organ to every other organ). “Cuvier ranks with von Baer as one of the founders of modern morphology” (Garrison-Morton 311). Text in French. Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science 20a. Bookplates.
Occasional light foxing, faint dampstain in Volume II. An extremely good copy.