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Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Chevalier de Lamarck was born in Bazentin-le-Petit Picardy on August 1st 1744 He was the youngest of eleven children in rural France The family had a strong military background with several generations as officers in the French army Some of Lamarcks older brothers made their careers in the military His father wanted Jean to take a career in the church However Jean did not like the ministry and quit his Jesuit college bought himself a horse and ran away to join the French army in their campaign near Fissinghausen Germany after his father died In his military career he quickly became a lieutenant in command of a garrison stationed at Monaco It was peacetime and the soldiers were indulging in some kind of physical game for relaxation when one of the men lifted Lamarck off the ground by his head This practical joke caused serious inflammation of the lymphatic glands in the neck and Lamarck had to be taken to Paris for further treatment But surgery if anything only made the injury worse and Lamarck was decommissioned Because his military career was ruined he fell back to studying the natural sciences which had been part of his instruction at college Lamarck began to study medicine in his spare time at the college Nevertheless he became more and more captivated with the natural sciences finally abandoning medicine for the study of botany With the help of a great botanist named Buffon he published his Flore Franccedilaise This volume brought him great praise and remained a standard work for many years He was elected to the French Academy of Sciences the following year He toured Europe searching for more plants and returned to become the keeper of the Royal herbarium at the Jardin des Plantes In the following years Lamarck continued his research studied shells produced various works on botany physics and meteorology and attended meetings of the Academy right up
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