Francis de Laporte de Castelnau

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Francis de Laporte de Castelnau Francis de Laporte de Castelnau.jpg
Francis de Laporte de Castelnau

François Louis Nompar de Caumont La Force, comte de Castelnau (25 December 1810 [1] – 4 February 1880) was a French naturalist, known also as François Laporte or Francis de Castelnau. The standard author abbreviation Castelnau is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name . [2] , and zoological names other than insects. However, Laporte is typically used when citing an insect name (e.g. [3] [4] ), or Laporte de Castelnau (e.g. [5] ).



Born in London, Castelnau studied natural history in Paris. From 1837 to 1841 he traveled in the United States, Texas, and Canada. He visited Middle Florida from November 1837 until March 1838, publishing "Essai sur la Floride du Milieu" in 1843. In Canada he studied the fauna of the Canadian lakes and the river systems of Upper and Lower Canada (roughly corresponding to the modern provinces of Ontario and Quebec) and of the United States. [6] [7]

Castelnau, a French savant, was sent by Louis Philippe, in 1843, with two botanists and a taxidermist, on an expedition to cross South America from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, following the watershed between the Amazon and La Plata river systems, and thence to Pará. He was gone for five years. [6] In 1856-57 he visited the Cape of Good Hope, travelling as far east as Algoa Bay, and subsequently wrote a treatise on South African fish (1861). [8]

He served as the French consul in Bahia in 1848; in Siam from 1848 until 1862, and in Melbourne, Australia from 1864 to 1877. [6]

Hoax Australian fish

The drawing of the hoax "fish" Ompax spatuloides by Karl Theodor Staiger, sent to Castelnau in 1879, who went on to give the "species" a scientific description Ompax spatuloides 1879.jpg
The drawing of the hoax "fish" Ompax spatuloides by Karl Theodor Staiger, sent to Castelnau in 1879, who went on to give the "species" a scientific description

Through no fault of his own, Castelnau's name is attached to an Australian hoax. " Ompax spatuloides ", a supposed ganoid fish said to have been discovered in 1872 and named by Castelnau, was a joke originally directed at Karl Staiger, the director of the Brisbane Museum. Staiger forwarded a sketch and description of the made-up fish to Castelnau, who duly described it. [6]


Castelnau is commemorated, among others, in the scientific names of:



  1. Some sources give his year of birth as 1812.
  2. IPNI.  Castelnau.
  3. Genus Perigona Laporte, 1835
  4. Tetraopes varicornis Laporte, 1840
  5. Genus Polyzonus Laporte de Castelnau, 1840
  6. 1 2 3 4 Whitley, G. P. (1974). Laporte, François Louis Nompar de Caumont (1810–1880). Australian Dictionary of Biography . MUP. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  7. Castelnau, Comte de; Seymour, Arthur R.; Boyd, Mark F. (January 1948). "Essay on Middle Florida, 1837-1838 (Essai sur la Florida du Milieu)". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 26 (3): 199–255. JSTOR   30139699.
  8. Southern African Plant Names - Clarke & Charters (Jacana, 2016)
  9. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Castelnau", p. 49).

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