Tag Archives: MHNGr

General de Lamothe: collection and collectors

General Léon de Lamothe (1849–1936) is a French geologist and malacologist whose collections are housed in Muséum d’Histoire naturelle in Grenoble. He brought together a large collection, building upon his father’s collection. Benjamin de Lamothe (1799–1884) was a colonel and we know he had collected molluscs himself, as evidenced by some labels (“collection de mon père et recueilli par lui”). This collection contained a few hundreds lots of specimens. His son Léon increased this collection by collecting especially in Algeria, when he was there in garrison during the 1910s. With an important network of conchologists, he practiced exchanges and purchases to constitute a worlwide collection that contained both marine and continental, with local and exotical species. L. de Lamothe worked in close cooperation with Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935), the most frequent name who appears in his collection. Dautzenberg gave him (or exchanged with him) many specimens, identified his samples and validated them before publication (e.g.: de Lamothe published some catalogues for the Algerian malacofauna, in particular Arzew and Mostaganem).


Another important collaborator of de Lamothe was the Commandant L. Morlet (1823–1892) who provided him with many exotical species.
The names of many other collectors can also be found in his collection: General Léon de Beylié (1849–1910), a patron for Musée de Grenoble (ethnology and archeology), Captain Le Chatelier, Marquis de Monterosato, Henri Gouin, Chaper, Darbois, Flamand, Sowerby, Newcombe, Smith, etc. He purchased molluscs from Vigné, Géret and most of all, Boulanger. Ancey is mentioned as a persons who performed the determinations. Finally a large serie of molluscs came from the Gruvel mission in 1909–1910 (with Chudeau along the coast of the West African) and another from “Germain’s mission in 1907” (probably the mission of Chudeau in Lake Chad).

[1] Annotated copy of L. de Lamothe’s work about marine malacology in MHNGr.


Chatenier: bio, portrait

Constant Chatenier (1849-1926) was a French botanist and conchologist. He was elementary school principal and he explored the plains and mountains of the Drome department. He worked as collaborator to the Flora of France, with the famous botanists Rouy & Foucaud. Some species had been described by him, particularly in the Rouy & Foucaud’s work, and some others had been dedicaced to him.


Chatenier was interested in local malacology. In 1888, he published a Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles observés dans le département de la Drôme… at the same time of the appearance of a similar work of Gustave Sayn, and almost with the same title, ignoring one another!

He was influenced by Saint-Lager, who was a well-known botanist in Lyon, also a nomenclaturist. Saint-Lager proposed a “reform of the botanical nomenclature” in 1880 and published a “trial of the botanical and zoological nomenclature” in 1886. Chatenier applied the principles proposed by Saint-Lager to the names of species of molluscs, notably he rejected all substantive names in apposition for specific names and other linguistical problems, e. g. Helix ericeticola instead of H. ericetorum, Pupa aveniformis (vs P. avena), P. frumentiformis (vs P. frumentum), etc. In total, 24 names had been changed for grammatical “errors” in his Catalogue. He confessed that the reasons to change the nomenctature were ‘pre-emptive’ and concluded: “J’ose espérer qu’elles [les raisons] seront ratifiées par tous ceux qui n’ont pas pour la tradition un respect exagéré”. Chatenier judged that the priority rule was less important than grammatical rules.

In malacology, Chatenier described: Helix megalomphala Chatenier, 1888, Helix petrophila Chatenier, 1888 and some manuscript names: Moitessieria elegans Chatenier, Pupilla costulata Chatenier. He is dedicatee of a Helix chatenieri by Germain, 1905. Victor Piraud, director of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Grenoble, had been asked him to determine regional molluscs in the museum.

Chatenier C. 1888. Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles observés dans le département de la Drôme. Bulletin de la Société de Sciences naturelles de la Drôme, (62 p.).
Sayn G. 1888-1889. Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles du département de la Drôme. Bulletins de la Société malacologique de France 5: 121–184 (1888); 6: 67–81 (1889).

[1] Portrait: MHNGr archives (I’m grateful to Mrs Catherine Gauthier for access to the collections and Philippe Candegabe for the scan).