Christol (Cristiol), Jules De

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Christol (Cristiol), Jules De

(b. Montpellier, France, 25 August 1802; d. Montpellier, 25 June 1861),


A collector of fossils, Christol presented a late and, by his own admission, hasty thesis for his doctorat ès-sciences at Montpellier in 1834. He was made professor of geology in 1837 at the newly created Faculté des Sciences in Dijon and soon after was also asked to take over the duties of secretary of the Faculty; he became dean in 1853. His administrative duties greatly hampered his scientific activity.

Christol confined his studies to the south of France. A rather mediocre geologist, sometimes placing fossils of different ages and origins in the same faunal group, Christol was, however, a competent osteologist and corrected certain of Cuvier’s errors. A disciple of Marcel de Serrs and of William Buckland, he specialized in the study of the Tertiary and Quaternary mammals of the south of France, particularly those from caves and osseous breccia. He was greatly interested in the rhinoceros, the hyena of the Quaternary, and in particular the Equidae, in which family he identified the important genus Hipparion.

Christol has often been cited as one of the founders of the science of prehistory, for in 1829 he had dared to state in Notice sur les ossements… fossiles…, a pamphlet printed at his own expense, that the human bones found in the cave of Pondres (Hérault) were contemporaneous with “extinct races” of lions, hyenas, and bears. Although based on observations found to be stratigraphically incorrect, this was a courageous statement, for it risked incurring the opposition of Cuvier, who denied the existence of fossilman. It must be remembered, howered, that the existence of this fossil man had been upheld previously—particularly by Christol’s friend Buckland and, especially with respect to the caves around Montpellier, by L. A. d’Hombres-Firmas.


Christol’s pamphlet on human bone fossils is Notice sur les ossements humains fossiles… du Gard, présentée à l’Académie des science… (Montpellier, 1829).

An MS list of the titles and works of Christol (Bibliothèque du Muséum, Paris, MS 2358–3) seems to have been used by Paul Gervais for his “Discours prononcé aux funérailles de M. de Christol,” in Mémoires de l’Académie des sciences de Montpellier, 5 (1861), 75–79. This list is completed by that in the Royal Society of Lodon, Catalogue of Scientific Papers, vol. I. Both spellings of the name should be consulted in any source.

The existence of fossil man is supported by L. A. d’Hombres-Firmas in Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève, XVII (Geneva, 1821), 33–41; and in Journal de physique92 (1821), 227–253.

Franck Bourdier

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Christol (Cristiol), Jules De

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