This Day in History: 1794-08-09

Achille Valenciennes (1794 – 1865) was born on this day. He was a French zoologist specializing in ichthyology who studied under Cuvier. Valenciennes worked with Cuvier on the twenty-two volume Histoire Naturelle des Poissons (1828 – 1848) continuing the work alone after the death of Cuvier in 1832. This was one of the most ambitious undertakings ever in ichthyology, a systematic compendium of the fishes of the world known at the time, covering 4,514 species of fishes including 2,311 new to science. He was appointed chair of Histoire naturelle des mollusques, des vers et des zoophytes at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (1832).

Valenciennes is honoured in the names of two genera of fishes, Valenciennea and Valenciennellus, and in the names of a number of species under valenciennei, valenciennesi, and valenciennis.