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Pierre-André Latreille



A prominent French zoologist; born at Brives, 29 November, 1762; died in Paris, 6 February, 1833. Left destitute by his parents in 1778, the boy found benefactors in Paris, and was adopted by the Abbé Haüy, the famous mineralogist. He studied theology and was ordained priest in 1786, after which he retired to Brives and spent his leisure in the study of entomology. In 1788 he returned to Paris, where he lived till driven out by the Revolution. Although not a pastor, he was arrested with several other priests, sentenced to transportation, and sent in a cart to Bordeaux in the summer of 1792. Before the vessel sailed, however, Latreille made the acquaintance of a physician, a fellow - prisoner, who had obtained a specimen of the rare beetle, Necrobia ruficollis. It was through this discovery that Latreille became acquainted with the naturalist, Bory de Saint-Vincent, who obtained his release.

He was again arrested in 1797 as an émigré, but was once more saved by influential friends. In 1799 he was placed in charge of the entomological department of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, and was elected a Member of the Academy in 1814. In 1829 he was appointed professor of entomology to succeed Lamarck. From 1796 to 1833 he published a great number of works on natural history. He was the real founder of modern entomology.

His lesser treatises and articles for various encyclopedias are too numerous for detailed mention here; details of them will be found in "Biographie générale", XXIX, and in Carus-Engelmann, "Bibliotheca zool.", II (Leipzig, 1861). In his "Précis des caractères génériques des Insectes" (Brives, 1795), and "Genera Crustaceorum et Insectorum" (4 vols., Paris, 1806-09), Latreille added very largely to the number of known genera, and he rendered an incomparable service to science by grouping the genera into families, which are treated in the complete work "Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des Crutaces et Insectes" (14 vols., Paris, 1802-05). But his two most conspicuous writings on this subject of natural classification are; "Considérations sur l'ordre naturel des animaux" (Paris, 1810), and "Familles naturelles du règne animal" ( Paris, 1825). His last work was "Cours d' Entomologie" (2 vols., Paris, 1831-33).

J. H. Rompel.








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