Father of Paleobotany
Today is the birthday of the French botanist and the Father of Paleobotany Adolphe-Théodore Brongniart ("Bron-yahr").
Adolphe-Théodore was born in Paris. His father, Alexander, was a geologist.
There’s no doubt his father’s work helped Adolphe-Théodore become a pioneer in the field of paleobotany. A paleobotanist is someone who works with fossil plants. Plants have been living on the planet for over 400 million years. So, there are plenty of fossil plants to study and catalog.
As one of the most prominent botanists of the 19th century, Adolphe-Théodore worked to classify fossil plant forms, and he did so even before Charles Darwin. Adolphe-Théodore’s work provided content for his book on the history of plant fossils in 1828. Adolphe-Théodore published his masterpiece when he was just 27 years old.
Adolphe-Théodore’s writing brought him notoriety and gave him the moniker "Father of Paleobotany." He was also called the "Linnaeus of Fossil Plants." Adolphe-Théodore was not so much a fossil plant discover as he was a fossil plant organizer. He put fossil plants in order and applied principles for distinguishing them.
In 1841, at the age of 40, Adolphe-Théodore received the Wollaston Medal for his work with fossil plants. It is the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London. It must have made his father, Alexander, very proud.
Adolphe-Théodore was a professor at the Paris Museum of Natural History. He was the backfill for Andre Michaux, who had left to explore the flora of North America.
Adolphe-Théodore's wife died young. They had two boys together, and when Adolphe-Théodore died, he died in the arms of his eldest son.