This week’s image comes to you from Paris, France — it’s a bronze statue of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon:
Buffon was an 18th century French naturalist and author who helped pave the way for the scientific study of evolution, ecology, and even geology. Buffon is best known for his work Histoire naturelle (1749 – 1788), a 44 volume description of everything known about the natural world up to that date.
In Buffon’s day, the world was thought to be young (created in 4004 BC according to Bishop Ussher), and all species of plants and animals separately created in their present form. Among other things, Buffon’s Histoire naturelle noted the similarities between humans and apes, positing a common ancestry for both — helping break ground for Darwin, who would explain the mechanisms behind this ancestry nearly 100 years later. Meanwhile, in Les Epoques de la Nature (1788), Buffon tackled geology — suggesting that the world was far more than 6,000 years old, and earning himself condemnation from the Catholic hierarchy in France.