Francis de Laporte de Castelnau

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.


Born in London, Castelnau studied natural history in Paris. From 1837 to 1841 he led a scientific expedition to Canada, where he studied the fauna of the Canadian lakes and the political systems of Upper and Lower Canada (roughly corresponding to the modern provinces of Ontario and Quebec) and of the United States.[2]

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.[2]

He served as the French consul in Bahia in 1848; in Siam from 1848 until 1862, and in Melbourne, Australia from 1864 to 1877.[2]

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

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.[2][3]



  1. Some sources give his year of birth as 1812.
  2. 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.
  3. Luck, Geoffrey (23 August 2014). "The Fishiest Fish". Quadrant Online (July-August).
  4. IPNI.  Castelnau.

Further reading

External links

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