What is disaster theory

Georges de Cuvier (born August 23, 1769, † May 13, 1832)

Georges de Cuvier was born in 1769 as the son of an officer and a housewife in the eastern French city of Montbéliard. He began to be interested in botanical and zoological topics at an early age, but nevertheless studied in Stuttgart with a focus on law and economics. During his long time as a private teacher, he intensified his work with biological topics, in particular the comparative anatomy of marine organisms. With several scientific treatises, Cuvier earned a high reputation in France even without a biological degree. In 1800 he was appointed professor of zoology. Thanks to his meticulous and precise research into the excavation of fossil living beings and their temporal classification (stratigraphy), Cuvier is now considered the founder of paleontology.

Cuvier coined the so-called Cataclysm theory (Greek kataklysmos = flood theory), also known as Disaster theory is known. During his geological excavations in France he came across numerous fossils. The older the finds, the more they differed from the more recent, i.e. still living, species. He assumed that the species change was due to individual flood disasters. Each of these disasters resulted in the extinction of many regional species. Over time, new species migrated from other areas of the world and thus changed the regional species profile.
The fact that Cuvier assumed only torrential flood disasters had no religious reasons: Between the layers with different species he repeatedly found marine sedimentary rocks with fossil snail species (mollusks). From this he wrongly concluded that flooding must have led to an abrupt extinction of species.

Another (erroneous) essential assumption by Cuvier is that Artkostanz, which was represented in a similar form by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné. According to this paradigm, any form of development is rejected, and an immutability of the animal and plant species is assumed. Species therefore do not descend from one another, but their shape has existed throughout the entire history of the earth.

Cuvier's theory from today's perspective:
The catastrophe theory itself is partly compatible with the evolution theory. Regional as well as global catastrophes do indeed change the species image. Mammals would never have developed to the same extent if a meteorite had not struck the Yucatán and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The central fallacy in Cuvier's theory, however, is the assumption of species constancy. To assume that species are immutable contradicts evolution at its core. Cuvier saw the cause of the change in the species picture in the disasters themselves, and not in the new environmental conditions caused by the disasters.