Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1701 – 1788)
Leclerc was a French naturalist, botanist, biologist, and writer. He speculated on the origin of life and the history of the planet, same as Benoit de Maillet, but with a more daring view due to his strong mathematical background and his understanding of Newton’s theory. Leclerc was a great natural historian, who wrote a 36-volume book and promoted the creation of the public botanical gardens in Paris. When the Church criticized him, he had to retract many of his ideas, even though he knew he was not honest.
His theory focused more on the creation of the earth than at the beginning of life. He believed the planets had originally been part of the Sun. A comet had collided with the Sun, and this made enormous amounts of material come apart and begin to spin around. Hence, that was why all planets orbit the Sun in the same plane. He calculated it must have taken the Earth 75,000 years to cool down. He divided those 75,000 years into seven different periods. He said that during the third-period, life appeared by spontaneous generation. Then animals appeared during the fifth and humans during the seventh period.