Alcide Charles Victor Marie Dessalines d'Orbigny (6 September 1802 – 30 June 1857) was a French naturalist who made major contributions in many areas, including zoology (including malacology), palaeontology, geology, archaeology and anthropology.
D'Orbigny was born in Couëron (Loire-Atlantique), the son of a ship's physician and amateur naturalist. The family moved to La Rochelle in 1820, where his interest in natural history was developed while studying the marine fauna and especially the microscopic creatures that he named "foraminiferans".
South American era
D'Orbigny travelled on a mission for the Paris Museum, in South America between 1826 and 1833. He visited Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia and returned to France with an enormous collection of more than 10,000 natural history specimens. He described part of his findings in La Relation du Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale pendant les annés 1826 à 1833 (Paris, 1824–47, in 90 fascicles). The other specimens were described by zoologists at the museum.
His contemporary, Charles Darwin, arrived in South America in 1832, and on hearing that he had been preceded, grumbled that D'Orbigny had probably collected "the cream of all the good things". Darwin later called D'Orbigny's Voyage a "most important work". They went on to correspond, with D'Orbigny describing some of Darwin's specimens.
1840 and later
In 1840, d'Orbigny started the methodical description of French fossils and published La Paléontologie Française (8 vols). In 1849 he published a closely related Prodrome de Paléontologie Stratigraphique, intended as a "Preface to Stratigraphic Palaeontology", in which he described almost 18,000 species, and with biostratigraphical comparisons erected geological stages, the definitions of which rest on their stratotypes.
In 1853 he became professor of palaeontology at the Paris Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, publishing his Cours élémentaire that related paleontology to zoology, as a science independent of the uses made of it in stratigraphy. The chair of paleontology was created especially in his honor. The d’Orbigny collection is housed in the Salle d'Orbigny and is often visited by experts.
He described the geological timescales and defined numerous geological strata, still used today as chronostratigraphic reference such as Toarcian, Callovian, Oxfordian, Kimmeridgian, Aptian, Albian and Cenomanian. He died in the small town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, near Paris.
- Alcidia Bourguignat, 1889 – a genus of sea snails
- Ampullaria dorbignyana Philippi, 1851 – a species of freshwater snail
- Apostolepis dorbignyi Schlegel, 1837 – a species of burrowing snake
- Bachia dorbignyi A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1839 a species of lizard
- Chaunus dorbignyi (A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1841) – a species of toad
- Haminoea orbignyana A. de Férussac, 1822 – a species of sea snail
- Liolaemus dorbignyi Koslowsky, 1898 – a species of lizard
- Lystrophis dorbignyi A.M.C. Duméril, Bibron & A.H.A. Duméril, 1854 – a species of snake
- Nerocila orbignyi (Guérin, 1832) – a species of ectoparasitic isopod
- Orbignya Mart. ex Endl. – a genus of palm trees, which includes the species Orbignya speciosa (Mart. ex Spreng.), commonly known as the Brazilian palm tree or babaçu in Portuguese
- Pinna dorbignyi Hanley, 1858 – a species of bivalve mollusc
- Potamotrygon orbignyi (Castelnau, 1855) – a species of freshwater stingray
- Quadracythere orbignyana (Bosquet, 1852) – a species of marine ostracod
- Sepia (Rhombosepion) orbignyana A. de Férussac in d'Orbigny, 1826 - a species of cuttlefish, commonly known as the pink cuttlefish
- Alcidedorbignya inopinata Muizon y Marshall, 1992 - an extinct genus of pantodont mammal
- d'Orbigny, Alcide (1843). Paléontologie française. Description zoologique et géologique de tous les animaux mollusques & rayonnés fossiles de France 3. Paris: Arthus Bertrand. p. 807. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "letter: 192, Darwin, C. R. to Henslow, J. S. [26 Oct–] 24 Nov 1832". Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "letter: 391, Darwin, C. R. to Jenyns, Leonard, 3 Dec ". Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "GRANDE MÉDAILLE D’OR DES EXPLORATIONS ET VOYAGES DE DÉCOUVERTE (in French)". Société de géographie. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- "Alcidedorbignya". Paleofile.com. Retrieved July 2013.
- "Conception et suites de la Paléontologie française d’Alcide d’Orbigny", Comptes Rendus Paleologiques 1.7 (December 2002) pp 599-613.
- Agnès Lauriat-Rag, "La collection d’Invertébrés fossiles d’Alcide d’Orbigny et la salle d’Orbigny", Comptes Rendus Paleologiques 1.7 (December 2002) pp 615-627.
La Gazette des Français du Paraguay, Alcide d'Orbigny - Voyageur Naturaliste pour le Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle dans le Cone Sud - Alcide d'Orbigny - Viajero Naturalista para el Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Francia en el Cono Sur - Bilingue Français Espagnol - numéro 7, année 1, Asuncion Paraguay.
- Beolens, Bo; Watson, Michael; Grayson, Michael. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("D'Orbigny", p. 74).
- "Alcide d'Orbigny" In Taylor, W. Thomas; Taylor, Michael L. 2011. Aves: A Survey of the Literature of Neotropical Ornithology. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Libraries. 156 pp. ISBN 978-0615453637.
- Works by Alcide d'Orbigny at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Alcide d'Orbigny at Internet Archive
- Gallica Digital versions of some d'Orbigny works. Search at Recherche.
- Dictionnaire Universel d'Histoire Naturelle