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Deshayes, Gerard Paul

DESHAYES, GERARD PAUL (1795-1875), French geologist and conchologist, was born at Nancy on the 13th of May 1797, his father at that time being professor of experimental physics in the Ecole Centrale of the department of la Meurthe. He studied medicine at Strassburg, and afterwards took the degree of bachelier ès lettres in Paris in 1821; but he abandoned the medical profession in order to devote himself to natural history. For some time he gave private lessons on geology, and subsequently became professor of natural history in the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle. He was distinguished for his researches on the fossil mollusca of the Paris Basin and of other Tertiary areas. His studies on the relations of the fossil to the recent species led him as early as 1829 to conclusions somewhat similar to those arrived at by Lyell, to whom Deshayes rendered much assistance in connexion with the classification of the Tertiary system into Eocene, Miocene and Pliocene. He was one of the founders of the Société Géologique de France. In 1839 he began the publication of his Traité élémentaire de conchyliologie, the last part of which was not issued until 1858. In the same year (1839) he went to Algeria for the French Government, and spent three years in explorations in that country. His principal work, which resulted from the collections he made, Mollusques de l'Algérie, was issued (incomplete) in 1848. In 1870 the Wollaston medal of the Geological Society of London was awarded to him. He died at Boran on the 9th of June 1875. His publications included Description des coquilles fossiles des environs de Paris (2 vols. and atlas, 1824-1837); Description des animaux sans vertèbres découverts dans le bassin de Paris (3 vols. and atlas, 1856-1866); Catalogue des mollusques de l'île la Réunion (1863).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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