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Pierre André Latreille

Pierre André Latreille
Born November 20, 1762
Brive-la-Gaillarde, Corrèze
Died February 6, 1833
Nationality French
Fields entomologist
Known for entomology

Pierre André Latreille (November 20, 1762 – February 6, 1833) was a French entomologist. His works describing insects assigned many of the insect taxa still in use today.

Latreille was born into a humble family of Brive-la-Gaillarde, Corrèze, and in 1778 entered the College Lemoine in Paris. He was ordained a priest in 1786 and then went back to Brive, where he spent all of his free time studying insects. In 1788 he returned to Paris and became active in the scientific community there, his Mémoire sur les mutilles découvertes en France gaining him admission to the Society for Natural History.

As a priest with conservative leanings, the French Revolution made his situation uncomfortable; he left Paris, and was later imprisoned at Bordeaux and sentenced to death for refusing to pledge an allegiance to the new constitution. While in prison, he received an unknown beetle specimen, which he described as a new species. On this basis, two fellow naturalists succeeded in convincing his captors to release him as a scientist, which is the only known case when discovering a new species saved somebody's life.[1] In 1796 he published Précis des caractères génériques des insectes, disposés dans un ordre naturel at Brive. He was rearrested in 1797 but again released.[2]

In 1798 he was given the task of arranging the entomological collection at the recently organized Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. In 1814 he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences (succeeding G. A. Olivier), and in 1821 he was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. In 1821, he was also made a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Among his scientific work was the publication of vertebrate systematics, where he erected a separate class for the amphibians (as Batracia), thus erecting the today four familiar classes of tetrapods: Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.[3] He was professor of zoology in the veterinary school at Alfort near Paris, and in 1830, when the chair of zoology of invertebrates at the Museum was divided after the death of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Latreille was appointed professor of zoology of crustaceans, arachnids and insects, the chair of molluscs, worms and zoophytes being assigned to Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville.


Scientific names in his honour


  • Précis des caracteres generiques des insectes, disposes dans un ordre naturel. - Paris-Brive, Prevot - F. Boudreaux XII, 3 201 [7] (1796).
  • Histoire naturelle générale et particulière des crustacés et insectes (14 vols., 1802–1805), forming part of C. N. S. Sonnini's edition of Buffon [1]
  • Genera crustaceorum et insectorum, secundum ordinem naturalem ut familias disposita (4 vols., 1806 i807 1807 1809)
  • Considérations sur l'ordre naturel des animaux composant les classes des crustacés, des arachnides, et des insectes (1810)
  • Les crustacés, les arachnides, les insectes: 1-653 In: Cuvier G. Le règne animal distribue d'apres son organisation, pour servir de base à l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction a l'anatomie Paris, Deterville.
  • Annales du Mus. [Cit. ex: Kirby W., Spence W. 1833. Einleitung in der Entomologie, oder Elemente der Naturgeschichte der Insecten., Bd.4: 481] (1821)
  • with Pierre François Marie Auguste Dejean Histoire naturelle et iconographie des insectes coléoptères d'Europe Paris : Crevot, 1822. digitised at Gallica.
  • Familles naturelles du règne animal, exposés succinctement et dans un ordre analytique (1825)
  • Cours d'entomologie (of which only the first volume appeared, 1831)
  • the whole of the section Crustacés, Arachnides, Insectes, in Georges Cuvier's Règne animal
  • many papers in the Annales du Museum, the Encyclopédie Méthodique, the Dictionnaire classique d'histoire naturelle and elsewhere.


In 1782 Latreille married Marie Olivier, sister of Guillaume Antoine Olivier. Marie departed for the Americas in 1787, but her ship was lost at sea.


  1. ^ Grimaldi D. & Engel M.S. (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521821495
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Pierre-André Latreille". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  
  3. ^ Latreielle, P.A. (1804): Nouveau Dictionnaire à Histoire Naturelle, xxiv., cited in Latreille's Familles naturelles du règne animal, exposés succinctement et dans un ordre analytique, 1825


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

(20.XI.1762 - 6.II.1833)

French naturalist.


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