François Levaillant , taxonomy biologist in
Born 1753-08-06 in Suriname
dead 1824-11-22 in France
François Levaillant (born Vaillant, later in life as Le Vaillant, "The Valiant") (6 August 1753 – 22 November 1824) was a French author, explorer, naturalist, zoological collector, and noted ornithologist. He described many new Species
of birds based on birds he collected in Africa and several birds are named after him. He was among the first to use colour plates for illustrating birds and opposed the use of binomial Nomenclature
introduced by Carl Linnaeus,
preferring instead to use descriptive French names such as the bateleur (meaning "tumbler or tight-rope walker") for the distinctive African eagle.
He went to the Cape of Good Hope in 1780, at the age of 27, nominally as a gunner's mate for the Dutch East India Company, but almost certainly sponsored by the Treasurer-General, Jacob Temminck with the understanding that he would strengthen Temminck's collection. spent six months in the Garden Route (Outeniqualand in those days) to catalogue its plants and animals, its fishes and its insects, but he was also the first person to shoot one of the elephants of the area (at Die Poort, between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna). At that time, South Africa was a relatively Unknown
and exotic location and he collected specimens that would establish his reputation within the scientific community until July 1784: 249 when he made his way back to Holland and France.
An analysis of Le Vaillant's collections made by Carl Sundevall in 1857 identified ten birds that could not be assigned definitely to any Species,
ten that were fabricated from multiple Species
and fifty Species
that could not have come from the Cape region as claimed. His reputation has understandably suffered as a result of these errors.