Today is the anniversary of the birth (in 1672) of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer. A major factor in the development of paleontology in Switzerland, he is also considered the founder of paleobotany and his Herbarium diluvianum was a standard through the nineteenth century. His work on a great variety of fossils makes him generally considered the founder of European paleontology.
In 1725 Scheuchzer examined a specimen of what he believed to be a fossilized victim of the Noachian Flood (homo diluvii testis) and he described the specimen in his 1731 work Physica Sacra. He died in 1733, believing the specimen to vindicate the biblical account of a flood.
In 1822, Georges Cuvier showed the specimen to be a giant salamander.