Caullery, Maurice

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Caullery, Maurice

(b. Bergues. France. 5 September 1868; d. Paris, France, 13 July 1958),

zoology, biology.

The son of an army captain, Caullery belonged to an old family of northern France. He was a brilliant student at the lycée of Douai and was accepted by both the École Polytechnique and the École Normale Supérieure (1887). He chose the latter and rapidly obtained licences in mathematics (1888), physics (1889), and natural sciences (1890). He passed the agrégation in natural sciences in 1891 and received the doctorat ès sciences naturelles with a thesis on the compound Ascidiacea in 1895. He then became préparateur agrégé (zoology) at the École Normale; assistant in physics, chemistry, and natural sciences; lecturer at Lyons from 1896 to 1900; full professor at Marseilles from 1900 to 1903; and lecturer at Paris from 1903 to 1909, when he became professor at the Laboratoire d’Évolution des Étres Organisés of the Faculté des Sciences, Paris, until his retirement in 1939, In this chair of evolution he succeeded Alfred Giard, whose teaching had inspired him as a student and had oriented his career toward biology. He also was director of the Wimereux marine laboratory.

As a zoologist Caullery left many works, written either alone or in collaboration with his friend Félix Mesnil. He published numerous notices and reports, nearly all of them on marine species. He described new species, but he gave the closest study to animals whose morphology, mode of reproduction, and ecology were of special interest or posed problems from the evolutionary point of view. His early research on the Tunicata enabled him to specify the different origins of the organs of the oozooid and the blastozooid. In the fixed polychaete Annelida he analyzed the important transformations connected with the epigamic metamorphosis that manifest themselves during sexual activity. He explained the evolutionary cycle of the Orthonectida, discovered by Giard in 1877. While studying the Annelida gathered by the Dutch ship Siboga from the bottom of the Malay Archipelago, he described a strange organism that he named Siboglinum weberi; it was later recognized as the representative of a new branch created in 1944, the Pogonofora.

Parasites greatly interested Caullery, and his important works on parasitic Protozoa (Gregarinida and Actinomyxidia) have precisely defined their sexual cycles. In the Orthonectida, the Turbellaria, and the epicarid Crustacea he observed the transformations brought about by parasites, polymorphism, morphological deterioration, anatomical regression, and her maphroditism.

A zoologist and researcher of wide scope, Caullery was also an excellent teacher, a brilliant lecturer, and a lucid and rigorous scientific writer. His lectures were models of didactic exposition and served as the basis for numerous richly documented works that focused on the development of biology. He also was attracted to the history of science, particularly to the history of biology and the evolution of ideas.

The many problems set forth in publications also held Caullery’s attention. With authority he concerned himself with the Bulletin biologique de la France et de la Belgique, successor to the Bulletin scientifique du département du Nord, founded by Giard. He enlivened the series of works in general biology issued by Doin and was one of the founders of the Presses Universitaires de France.


Caullery’s papers include “Contribution à l’étude des Ascidies composées,” in Bulletin scientifique de la France et de la Belgique, 27 (1895), 1–157; “Les formes épitoques et l’évolution des Cirratuliens,” in Annales de l’Université de Lyon, 39 (1898); “Recherches sur les Actinomyxidies.” in Archiv für Protistenkunde, 6 (1905) 272–308; “Recherches sur le cycle évolutif des Orthonectides,” in Bulletin scientifique de la France et de la Belgique, 46 (1912). 139–171;“Histoire des sciences biologiques,” in Histoire de la nation française. 15 (1925), 3–326; and “Le genre Siboglinum,” in Traité de zoologie. 11 (1948), 395–399.

Among his books are Les universityés et la vie scientifiqiue aux États-Unis (Paris. 1917): Le parasitisme et la symbiose (Paris, 1922, 1950), also trans. into English (London, 1952); Le problème de l’évolution (Paris, 1931); La science française depuis le XVIIème siècle (Paris, 1933, 1946), also trans, into English (New York, 1933); Les conceptions modernes de l’hérédité (Paris, 1935, 1950); Les progrès récents de l’embryologie expérimentale (Paris, 1939); Biologie des abeilles (Paris, 1941); Les étapes de la biologie (Paris. 1941); L’embryologie (Paris, 1942); Organisme et sexualité (Paris, 1942, 1951); Génétique et hérédité (Paris, 1943); and Biologie des jumeaux (Paris, 1945).

A notice on the life and works of Caullery is E. Fauré-Fremiet, in Académie des sciences (Paris, 1960), which includes a bibliography, information on his scientific jubilee in 1939, and references to obituaries.

AndrÉe TÉtry