Lacaze-Duthiers, Félix-Joseph Henri De

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Lacaze-Duthiers, Félix-Joseph Henri De

(b Chāteau de Stiguederne, Lot-et-Garonne, Montpezat, France, 15[?] May 1821; d. Las-Fons, Dordogne, France, 21 July 1901)


Lacaze-Duthiers was the second son of Baron Lacaze-Duthiers, a rather difficult and authoritarian man who was descended from an old Gascon family. After ontaining bacje;or degrees in arts and in sciences, Lacaze-Duthiers went to paris, despite paternal opposition, to undertake simultaneously medical and natural history studies. He became licentiate in 1845, doctor of medicine in 1851, and doctor of sciences at the Faculty of Sciences of Paris in 1853. He then departerd on research excurions to the Balearic Islands and Brittany, where he commenced work on his scientific specialty, marine mollusks and zoophytes. In 1854, upon his return to Paris, his mentor Henri Milne-Edwards, for whom he had formerly acted as préparateur, obtained for him a professorship of zoology at the newly created Faculty of Sciencs at Lille, where Louis pasteur was dean of the faculty.

During this period of his career Lacaze-Duthiers made several more secientific excursions to the Atlantic and Meditereanean for the French govenment from 1860 to 1862, he studied coral fishing in Algeria. Teh 1860 to 1862, he studied coralfishing in Algeria The results of hsi expendition, published as Histoire noturelle du corail (1864), won him the Prix Bordin fron the Academy of Sciences in 1863. His work was especially valued for its accurate description of the generative organs and the phases of development of the coral and its polypary. In 1864 Lacze-Duthiers left Lille for Paris, where he became professor of annelids, mollusks, and zoophytes at the Muséum d’ Historie Naturelle in 1854. He gave up this chair in 1869to take one of the two chairs of zoology, anatomy, and comparative physiology at the Faculty of Sciences, the other chair being held by Milne-Edwards. In 1871 he was elected to the Academy of Sciences.

The earlier part of Lacaze-Duthiers’s career was devoted to writing unmerous long monographs on mollusks and zoophytes, in which he described with great accuracy and minuteness of detail the anatomy, histology, and embryogeny of his subjects, utilizing the results to classify what had appeared to be anomalous types of animals. The latter part of his career was characterized by activities directed toward assuring the progress of zoology and zoology education in France. Thus at the Faculty of Sciences he instituted laboratory work for students and set up a regularized three-year course in zoology for degree candidates. His journal, Archives de zoology expérimentale et générale, founded in 1872, published the work of his students. The opening discourse, “Direction des études zoolofiques,” argues against the assertions of Claude zoologiques,” argues against the assertions of Claude Bernard and the French physiological school by insisting that zoology can and ought to be an experimental science. if one extends “experiment” to mean a prepared observation controlling an induction. Also to further zoological education, Lacaze-Duthiers founded and expended a great deal of effort developing two of the earliest marine zoological laboratories, one at Roscoff, on the coast of Brittany, and the other the Laboratory Argo, at Banyuls, on the Mediterranean.

In his work on marine invertebrates, Lacaze-Duthiers followed in the footsteps of his master, Henry Milne-Edward, who also had carefully studied the anatomy and embryogeny of these animals. Repeatedly Lacaze-Duthiers stressed the importnce for classification of studying marine animals in their natural habitat and observing their embryogeny. He was a follower of the Cuvier school in that he held to a very empirical sort of science. Although he claimed to be “philosophical,” he was extremely cautios about generalization and hypothese. He believed, for example, that the problem of the orgin of species was outside the domain of objective science. Lacaze-Duthiers did, however, often apply Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire’s principle of connections in limited areas. His doctoral dissertation, for example, set up detailed homologies of the part of the genital casing detailed homologies of the parts of the genital casing throughout the insects. A later memoir applying the principle of connections in limited areas. His doctoral dissertation, for example, set sup detailed homologies of the parts of the genital casing throughout the insects. A later memoir applying the principle of connections (1872) demonstrated that the auditory nerve of mollusks is always attached to the auditor nerve of mollusks is always attached to the cerbroid ganglion and not sometimes to the cerebroid ganglion and not sometimes to the pedal ganglion, as had been previously assumed.

Lacaze-Duthiers never married. Especially in his old age, he became rather rigid and suspicious. While very demanding of his students and suspicious. While very demanding of his students and reluctant to extend his confidences, he nevertheless felt a great need for the approval of others.


I. Oricinal Works. Lacaze-Duthiers’s major publications are Recherches sur l’ armure génitale famelle des insectes (Paris, 1853); Voage aux iles Baléares, ou Recherches sur l’anatomie et la physiologic de quelques mollusques de la Médit (Paris, 1857); Histopire de l’organisation du développement, des moeurs et des rapports zoologiques du dentale (Parir, 1858); Un été d’obsercations en Corse et ā Minorque, ou Recherches d’anatomie et physilologie zoologiues sur les invertébrés des ports d’ Ajacio, Bonifacio et Mahon (Paris, 1861); Histoire naturelle du corail (Paris, 1864); Recherches de zoologie, d’anatomic et d’embryogérie et ls Tunisée (Paris, 1866); Le monde de la meret ses laboratoires (Paris, 1888).

A chronological list of his books and memoirs can be found in Archives de zoologie exérimentale et générale, 3rd ser., 10 (1902), 64–78. It omits publications of menoris in book form. The Royal Society’s Catatlogue of Scientific Paper, III, 787–789, VIII, 143–144, X, 485, and XVI, 534–535, contains his memoris through 1900. Some of his MSS are at the Laboratoire Arago. An English tans. of part of Lacaxe-Duthiers’s introductin to the first vol. of his journal, “The Study of Zoology,” is in William Coleman, The Interpretation of Animal Form (New York, 1967), 131–163.

II. Secondary Literature. There appears to be no full-length biography of Lacaze-Duthiers. Short accounts of his life and work can be found in Louis Boutan, “Henri de Lacaze-Dethiers,” in Revue scientifique, 4th ser., 17 (1902), 33–40; Alfred Lacroix, “Les membres et correspondents ayant travillé sur les cōtes de l’ Afrique de Nord et du Nord-Est,” in Mémoires del’Académie des sciences de l’Institut de France, 66 (1943), 17–27 (Lacroix gives the date of birth as 21 May instead of 15 May 1821); and G. Pruvot, “Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale, 3rd ser., 10 (1902), 1–46.

A recent article making use of Ms material and helpful for probing the character of Lacaze-Duthiers is George Peit, “Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers (1821–1901) et ses ’carnets’ intimes,” in Commutations du Premier congrés international d’historire de l’ océanographie, Monaco, 1966, II (1968), 453–465. For an account of Lacaze-Duthiers’s professorship at Lille during Pasteur’s tenure there as dean of the faculty, see Denise Wrothnowsks, “Pasteur et Lacaze-Duthiers,” in Histoire des sciences médicales, no. 1 (1967), 1–13.

Toby A. Appel

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Lacaze-Duthiers, Félix-Joseph Henri De

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