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Garnot, Prosper

Garnot, Prosper

(b. Brest, France, 13 January 1794; d. Paris, France, 8 August 1838)

medicine, zoology, anthropology, ethnology.

Garnot became an assistant surgeon in the French navy in 1811. After several voyages to Cayenne and Martinique (1817-1818) as a naturalist, he worked in the Antilles from 1819 to 1820. He received the M.D. in 1822 with the thesis “Essais sur le choléra morbus.” In August of that year he joined Duperrey’s world voyage on the French corvette Coquille. Garnot and the pharmacist R. P. Lesson were to serve as naturalists for the expedition.

After visiting the Falkland Island and adding much to geographical knowledge of them, the expedition rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Pacific. In the autumn of 1823 Garnot visited the southern Moluccas, New Zealand, and the island of New Guinea, and in January 1824 the Coquille went to Port Jackson for repairs. Garnot fell ill and returned to Europe on a merchantman, taking a great part of the expedition’s collected material with him. Nearly all of this material was lost by shipwreck in July 1824.

During the Coquille’s voyage, Garnot paid special attention to the vertebrate animals and to several human tribes in the South Pacific. He collected and measured a number of skulls from these tribes and described the Alfurs, a little-known people who inhabit the interior of New Guinea. In addition, he found a plant, which was named garnotia.

The results of the voyage were published by Duperrey as Voyage autour du monde exéeuté par ordre du roi sur la corvette La Coquille pendant les années 1822-1825 (Paris, 1828-1832). The first section of this work, dealing with zoology, was written by Garnot and Lesson.

Garnot became surgeon first-class in 1825, and from 1827 to 1828 he worked at hospitals in Brest. He then became second surgeon in Martinique, where he worked as an obstetrician after his retirement in 1833. He was a corresponding member of the Académie Royale des Médecins and a member of several scientific institutions.


I. Original Works. Garnot’s works include Remarques sur la zoologie des îles Malonines, faites pendant le voyage autour du monde de la corvette La Coquille exécuté en 1822-1825 (Paris, 1826); “Lettre sur les préparations anatomiques artificielles du docteur Auzoux,” in Annales maritimes et colonials (1827); Leçons élémentaries sur l’art des accouchements destinées aux éléves sages-femmes dans les colonies françalises, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1834); and De l’homme considéré sous le rapport de ses caractères physiques (Paris, 1836), Articles by Garnot are in Bulletin de l’Académie ébroicienne d’Évreux, France maritime, Journal des voyages, découvertes et navigations modernes, and Bulletin des sciences médicales, 8 (1826), 273-275.

II. Secondary Liteature. For information on Garnot, see Almanac général de médecine (1839), p. 370; Charles Berger and Henry Ray, “Répertoire bibliographique des travaux des médecins et des pharmaciens de la marine française, 1698-1873,” app. to Archives de médecine navale (Paris, 1874); A. C. P. Callisen, Medicinisches Schriftsteller Lexicon (Copenhagen, 1831; repr. Nicukoop, 1963), VII, 57; XXVIII, 155-156; and A. Hirsch, Biographiches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte, II (Munich-Berlin, 1962), 689.

A. P. M. Sanders.

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