Biography of Lázaro Spallanzani (1729-1799)

Physiologist and naturalist Italian, born in Scandiano (Duchy of Modena) on January 12, 1729 and died in Pavia on February 11, 1799, whose contributions to the study of life and reproductive functions of animals marked the beginning of experimental biology and laid the foundations for further investigations of Louis Pasteur.

Son of a distinguished lawyer, studied at the Jesuit College of Reggio, where he/she received a careful classical education. At the end of these, he/she was invited to join the order, but he/she declined the offer to go to Bologna to study law; Once there, the influence of a math teacher made him opt for the sciences, in whose Studio ventured with notable success, to the end that in 1754 Spallanzani was Professor of logic, metaphysics and Greek in the University of Reggio, and in 1760, Professor of physics at the University of Modena.

In 1766 he/she unveiled his first work, a monograph about the mechanics of the stones in the water, and a year later, in 1767, published for the first time the results of his research in the field of biology, an attack on the biological theory of George Buffon and the Catholic priest John Turberville Needham, who believed that all living forms emerged from inanimate matterin which a series of "vital atoms", responsible for the physiological activities originated. The results of their experiments led them to postulate that these small forms, that they saw in the microscopic organisms that originate in standing water or broth that had long been closed containers, fell to the ground dying and returning again to the plants, which in itself was not more than the theory of spontaneous generation.

Spallanzani studied several forms of microscopic life and subsequent discoveries that demonstrated that the theory of English was erroneous and that they confirmed the point of view of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek that such forms were living organisms. In 1768 saw the light of the results of his experiments on regeneration and transplantation, factors that had studied in a wide range of animals including flatworms, snails, and amphibians. Their conclusions were that the lower animals had much more regenerative power than the upper, and, within the same species, the exemplary young than adults; In addition, except for simple animals, were surface parts and not the internal organs that were easier to regenerate. With regard to transplantation, was avezando in his experiments with progressive skill, and even managed to successfully transfer a snail head to the body of another.

In 1773 his research focused on the circulation of the blood through the lungs, and in the organs and processes involved in digestion, result of which was evidence that the gastric juices contain special substances to treat different meals.

Another of his research interests was the male role in the reproduction process. In response to the request of his friend Charles Bonnet, Spallanzani began a series of investigations which led him to conclude that the sperm were a series of parasites that are found in the semen. Although sperm seen for the first time in the 17TH century, its function was not understood until thirty years after the formulation of the theory of the cells, in 1839.

After some early investigations with simple animals, both Bonnet and Spallanzani accepted the preformation theory and launched his own coming to say that all living forms in principle had its germ in God, and that they were encapsulated in the first female of each species. So, the new individual present in each egg was not new, but it was developed as a result of the expansion of its parts, laid down by God in the creation. He/She assumed that contact between semen and egg was fundamental, since by filtering the semen this became less effective, but not this related to sperm, which looked like inanimate parasites. Yet, despite his error, Spallanzani conducted the first experiments of artificial insemination with very satisfactory results.

After having made profound scientific and philological studies, he/she obtained in Pavia the Chair of natural history and the direction of the Museum of natural sciences, which enriched with the fruit of his scientific explorations in Europe, Asia and the archipelago. To it are important discoveries, published posthumously, about converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, which according to him had place in the tissues, and even though today we know that this is not so, your studies laid the foundations for further investigations. His most notable works are: memory on the breath; Booklets of physical plant and animal; Several memories.