Testut, Jean Léo

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(b. Saint–Avit Sénieur, Dordogne, France, 22 March 1849; d. Caudéran, near Bordeaux, France, 16 January 1925)

anatomy, anthropology.

The son of Jean Testut and the former Marie Deynat, Léo Testut began his medical studies at Bordeaux, where he was successively interne des hôpitaux, préparateur in physiology, and chef de travaux in anatomy (1877). He completed his studies at Paris and in 1877 defended a doctoral dissertation entitled “De la symétrie dans les affections de la peau.” As a result of his work in the laboratories of Pierre Paul Broca, Louis Ranvier, Étienne–Jules Marey, Jean–Louis de Quatrefages, and Félix Pouchet, he was able to consolidate his threefold training in anatomy, physiology, and anthropology. In 1880 Testut became agrégé in anatomy and physiology in the medical faculty at Bordeaux. He was appointed professor of anatomy at Lille in 1884 and transferred to a similar post at Lyons in 1886. In 1919 he retired and moved to Beaumont. During the Franco–Prussian War Testut won the médaille militaire, and he died a commander of the Legion of Honor. He married Jeanne Clissey, whose death preceded his own.

Testut’s chief professional activity was the teaching of anatomy through lectures and books. His most important work, the three–volume Traité d’anatomie humaine (1889–1892), went through six editions in his lifetime: it was translated into Italian and Spanish and was used throughout the world. Testut also published a Précis d’anatomie descriptive (1901) and a two–volume Traité d’anatomie topographique (1905–1909; with Octave Jacob). Further, he was the editor of a popular series of condensed medical textbooks. In addition to medicine, Testut wrote on comparative anthropology, paleopathology, archaeology, and local history.


I. Original Works. Recherches sur quelques muscles surnuméraires de la région scapulaire antéro–interne (Paris, 1883); Les anomalies musculaires chez l’homme expliquées par l’anatomie comparée, leur importance en anthropologie (Paris, 1884); Anatomie anthropologique, Qu’est–ce que l’homme pour un anthropologiste? (opening lesson of the anatomy course, given at the Faculté de Médecine of Lyons, 15 November 1886), (Paris, 1887); Recherches anthropologiques sur le squelette quaternaire de Chancelade (Dordogne) (Lyons, 1889); Traité d’anatomie humaine: anatomie descriptive, histologie, développement, 3 vols. (Paris, 1889–1892; 9th ed., 1949); Précis d’anatomie descriptive, aidemémoire à l’usage des candidats au premier examen de doctorat (Paris, 1901; 15th ed., 1944); Traité d’anatomie topographique, avec applications médicochirurgicales, 2 vols. (Paris, 1905–1909; 4th ed., 1921), written with Octave Jacob.

II. Secondary Literature. A. Latarjet, “Léo Testut,” in Paris médical,56 (1925), 199–200: A. Policard, “Léo Testut,” in Presse médicale,10 (1925), 157.

See also the editorial “Le professeur Testut, de Lyon.” in Chanteclair,107 (1912), 7.

Charles Coury