Marion, Antoine Fortuné

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(b. Aix-en-Provence, France, 10 October 1846; d. Marseilles, France, 22 January 1900)

zoology, geology, botany, plant paleontology.

Marion came from a family of modest means. He attended the lycée at Aix, where he was a classmate of the novelist Émile Zola. His intelligence and inclination toward the natural sciences attracted the attention of Henri Coquand, professor of geology at the Faculté des Sciences of Marseilles, who had him appointed an assistant in natural history in 1862, a few days before he received his baccalauréat ès lettres and two years before his baccalauréat ès sciences. In 1868 he earned his licence ès sciences naturelles, and in 1869 he shared the Bordin Prize of the Academy of Sciences for his “Recherches anatomiques et zoologiques sur des nématoïdes non parasites marins.” This work formed the basis of his doctoral thesis (1870).

In 1858 Marion had presented to the Marquis Gaston de Saporta a fossil leaf of Magnolia, a new variety, which he had discovered in the gypsum of Aix. This incident marked the beginning of a long collaboration and friendship, which remained, according to Saporta, “free from any disturbance or element of discord.”

Marion’s first publications (1867), which dealt with geology and paleontology, were followed by memoirs on plant paleontology published either alone or in collaboration with Saporta. Marion continued to publish works in this field until 1888, interspersing them with others on zoology, embryology, and marine biology. One of the most noteworthy is L’évolution du règne végétal, in three volumes (1881–1885). This synthesis, long a classic in the field, is not, properly speaking, a theoretical work but an attempt to apply transformist ideas to the history of plant life.

In 1871 as chargé de cours Marion gave a free course on the geology of Provence at the Faculté des Sciences of Marseilles. From October 1871 to November 1872 he took over the teaching of the natural sciences at the lycée of Marseilles. The Faculty of Sciences nominated him to fill the chair of geology left vacant by the death of Lespès—which, if Marion had obtained it, would have given his career a very different pattern. In 1872 he gave a course (cours complémentaire) on zoology for the école Pratique des Hautes études and directed a laboratory of marine zoology established in the Allée de Meilhan, where the Faculté des Sciences had been. Numerous French and foreign researchers soon came to the laboratory, including Bobretsky, Weismann, O. Schmidt, and especially A. Kovalevsky, with whom Marion became quite friendly; he was also visited by Alexander Agassiz.

In 1876 a chair of zoology was established at Marseilles; Marion had to wait until he was thirty to assume it. This post helped him to gain acceptance for his plan to build a large marine laboratory on the coast at Endoume, a project initiated in 1878 with the support of the city of Marseilles. A source of hardship and disappointment for Marion, the project was finally accomplished after the city council of Marseilles at long last approved the necessary legislation on 16 December 1887.

In 1880 Marion succeeded the botanist E. M. Heckel as director of the Museum of Natural History of Marseilles. In 1883 he founded the museum’s Annales, which until his death were subtitled Travaux du Laboratoire de zoologie marine. Indeed, Marion considered this publication to be essentially the organ of the laboratory; his wish was to coordinate the activities of the laboratory of marine zoology, the Endoume station, and the museum. In his goal of enriching the Marseilles museum with regional collections he amassed most of the material in the Salle de Provence.

A very special aspect of Marion’s scientific activity was his involvement in the struggle against phylloxera from 1876 to 1878. Recognizing the inadequacy of sulfocarbonate and the efficacy of carbon disulfide, he devised methods of injecting the latter substance into the soil. These methods were of considerable value until the studies on American vines had been completed and had shown that the grafting of stock from California produced immunity. These efforts brought Marion considerable recognition as well as French and foreign honors. He received the Grande Médaille of the French National Society of Agriculture (1881) and was made Knight of the Crown of Italy (1879), Commander of Christ (Portugal, 1880), and Commander of Saint Anne (Russia, 1893). The Russian government invited him to be a member of a Commission on Vineyards, which visited Bessarabia, the Crimea, and the Caucasus. He was a member of a similar mission in the vineyards of Hungary.

Marion’s extremely important zoological work dealt with marine invertebrates. After his thesis (1870), he returned to his research on the free-living nematodes (roundworms) of the Gulf of Marseilles (1870). Several of his publications are entitled “Recherches sur les animaux inférieurs du golfe de Marseille” (1873–1874). His studies in the field include memoirs on the parasitic Rotifera (1872), the nemerteans (1869–1875), the echinoderms (1873), the zoantharians (1882), the Alcyonarians (1877, 1882, 1884), the parasitic crustaceans (1882), the annelids (1874), the enteropneusts (1885, 1886), and the mollusks (1885, 1886). Two works were awarded the Grand Prize in Physical Sciences by the Academy of Sciences in 1885: “Esquisse d’une topographie zoologique du golfe de Marseille” (1883) and “Considérations sur les faunes profondes de la Méditerranée étudiées d’aprés les dragages opérés sur les côtes méridionales de France” (1883).

Marion constantly sought practical applications of marine zoology. He was ahead of his time in advocating the establishment of “maritime fields” where marine animals could be raised, studied, and experimented on in isolated reserves. He was a man of seductive charm and simplicity, of extremely varied talents and an open mind, and an exceptional teacher. In 1887 he was elected a corresponding member of the Institut de France. Although not cautious about his health, he dreaded long trips; before leaving for Russia, he wondered whether he would return, lamenting his “rather prematurely impaired health” (unpublished letter to Lacaze-Duthiers). Deeply grieved by the sudden death of his only daughter, he died a few months later.


I. Original Works. Marion’s writings on botany and plant paleontology include “Description des plantes fossiles de Ronzon (Haute-Loire),” in Comptes rendus … de l’Académie des sciences,74 (1872), 62–64; “Essai sur l’état de la végétation à l’époque des marnes heersiennes de Gelinden,” in Mémoires de l’Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts, de Belgique,37 , no. 6 (1873), written with Saporta; “Recherches sur les végétaux fossiles de Meximieux (Ain), précédées d’une introduction stratigraphique par A. Falsan,” in Archives du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Lyon,1 (1875–1876), 131–324, written with Saporta; “Sur les genres Williamsonia et Goniolina,” in Comptes rendus … de l’Académie des sciences,92 (1881), 1185–1188, 1268–1270, written with Saporta; L’évolution du régne végétal. Les cryptogames, in Bibliothèque des Sciences Internationales (Paris, 1881), written with Saporta; L’évolution du règne végétal. Les phanérogames, 2 vols. (Paris, 1885), written with Saporta; and “Sur les Gomphostrobus heterophylla, conifères Prototypiques du permien de Lodève,” in Comptes rendus … de l’ Académie des sciences,110 (1890), 892–894.

On zoology and marine biology, see “Note sur I’histologie du système nerveux des némertes,” in Comptes rendus … de l’Académie des sciences,68 (1869), 1474–1475; “Recherches anatomiques et zoologiques sur des nématoïdes non parasites marins,” in Annales des sciences naturelles (zoologie),13 (1870), 1–90; “Recherches sur les animaux inférieurs du golfe de Marseille. Sur un nouveau némertien hermaphrodite. Observations sur Borlasia Kefersteini,” ibid., 17 (1873), 1–21; “Recherches sur les animaux inférieurs du golfe de Marseille. II. Description de crustacés amphipodes parasites des salpes,” ibid., n.s. 1 (1874), 1–20; “Sur les espèces méces méditerranéennes du genre Eusyllis,” in Comptes rendus … de l’Académie des sciences,80 (1875), 498–499; “Étude des annélides du golfe de Marseille,” in Annales des sciences naturelles, n.s. 2 (1875), 1–106, written with N. Bobretsky; “Révision des nématoïdes du golfe de Marseille,” in Comptes rendus … de l’ Académie des sciences,80 (1875), 499–501; and “Dragages au large de Marseille (juillet–septembre 1875),” inAnnales des sciences naturelles, n.s. 8 (1879).

See also “Études sur les Neomenia,” in Zoologischer Anzeiger,5 (1882), 61–64, written with Kovalevsky; “Considérations sur les faunes profondes de la Méditerranée étudiées d’après les dragages opérés sur les côtes méridionales de la France,” in Annales du Musée d’histoire naturelle de Marseille,1, 2 (1883), 1–40, which won the Academy’s Grand Prize in Physical Sciences in 1885; “Documents pour l’histoire embryogénique des alcyonnaires,” ibid., 1, 4 (1883), 1–50, written with Kovalevsky; “Esquisse d’une topographie zoologique du golfe de Marseille,” ibid., 1, 1 (1883), 1–120; “Organisation du Lepidomenia hystrix, nouveau type de solénogastre,” in Comptes rendus…de l’Académie des sciences,103 (1886), 757–759, written with Kovalevsky; “Documents ichthyologiques. Énumération des espèces rares de poissons capturés sur les côtes de Provence,” in Zoologischer Anzeiger,9 (1886), 375–380; “Contribution à l’histoire naturelle des solénogastres ou aplacophores,” in Annales du Musée d’histoire naturelle de Marseille,3 (1887), 1–76, written with Kovalevsky; and “Sur les espèces de Proneomenia des côtes de Provence,” in Comptes rendus … de l’ Académie des sciences,106 (1888), 529–532, written with Kovalevsky.

Works on applied marine zoology appeared in the Annales du Musée d’histoire naturelle de Marseille (Travaux du Laboratoire de zoologie marine). In vol. 3 (1886–1889) are articles on the anchovy and remarks on the mackerel of the Provençal coast. In vol. 4 (1890–1894) are memoirs on the fishing and the reproduction of the Atherina hepsetus, on floating eggs and young fish observed in the Gulf of Marseilles in 1890, and on the raising of some young fish, as well as remarks on the systematic exploitation of the shore land. Also included are climatic observations made at the zoological station at Endoume for the study of the regional fishing industry. Vol. 5 (1897–1899) contains mainly articles on climatic conditions during 1893, 1894, and 1895 designed “to aid in the statistical study of the fishing industry on the Marseilles coast.”

On Marion’s efforts to combat phylloxera, see “Sur l’emploi du sulfure de carebone contre le Phylloxera,” in Comptes rendus … de l’Académie des sciences,82 (1876), 1381; and “Remarques sur l’emploi du sulfure de carbone au traitement des vignes phylloxérées,” ibid., 112 (1891), 1113–1117, written with G. Gastine. There are various articles on agricultural techniques and applied zoology in Revue générale d’agriculture et de viticulture méridionales (May—Oct. 1898).

II. Secondary Literature. See G. Gastine, “Antoine-Fortuneé Marion,” in Bulletin mensuel de la Société départementale d’agriculture des Bouches-du-Rhône, no. 2 (Feb. 1900), 33–43; Jourdan, A. Vayssière, and G. Gastine, “Notice sur la vie et les travaux de A. F. Marion,” in Annales de la Faculté des sciences de Marseille,11 (1901), 1–26; G. Petit, “F. A. [sic ] Marion (1846–1900),” in Bulletin du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Marseille,1 , no. 1 (1941), 5–12; Marquis de Saporta, “Notice sur les travaux scientifiques de M. A. F. Marion,” in Mémories de l’Académiedes sciences, agriculture, arts et belles-lettres d’Aix,13 (1885), 241–284; and A. Vayssière, “Notice bibliographique sur A. F. Marion,” in Annales du Musée d’histoire naturelle de Marseille,6 (1901), 7–9.

G. Petit