Charles Bonnet
Charles Bonnet was born on March 13, 1720 in Geneva.  Mr. Bonnet could not communicate well at school.  The other kids made fun of him.  Because of this his father decided to home school him.  His father hired a tutor.  His tutor taught him other languages like Greek and Latin.  He also taught him science.   

Photo Courtesy of
the Collection Jean-Jacques Monney


Photo Courtesy of Rothamsted Research Center
Photo Courtesy of The International Carnivorous Plant Society


Mr. Bonnet was very adventurous as a child.  He searched for examples of the things he learned about in science outside.  When Bonnet was 20 years old he ran an experiment.  The insect he studied was called an aphid.  He discovered parthenogenesis.  Parthenogenesis means that a mother insect can have babies without a father insect.   This was a very important discovery. 

His family did not want him to become a scientist so he became a lawyer.  He continued to be a scientist as a hobby.

Bonnet became very interested in entomology.  He ran many experiments with butterflies, caterpillars, and ants.  People call him the first experimental entomologist.  Bonnet wrote many books about his work.


Photo Courtesy of Rothamsted Research Center



Photo Courtesy of the University of Illinois

Photo Courtesy of the University of Sydney

Kids with asthma have to take medicine.

Photo Courtesy of the Daily Mail

Bonnet was not just deaf. He also became blind and had asthma when he was young.  Bonnet spent most of his life alone.  He did not enjoy being around other people.  It was too hard to communicate.


Because he was blind and deaf he had to change what he studied.  He became interested in botany.  He studied photosynthesis. When this became too hard he hired helpers.   When he could no longer do his own experiments he wrote down his ideas.   Others scientists tried experiments that he wrote down.

Picture Courtesy of


Picture Courtesy of the South African National Parks

One of the papers Bonnet wrote was about species extinction. Extinction happens when the last member of one kind of animal dies.  He believed in the catastrophism theory.  This means that he believed that events like earthquakes and floods made the shape of the Earth. He also believed species evolved.  Evolution means that living things change.  He was the first person to think of this idea. 
He communicated his ideas well though writing until he died on May 20, 1793.     

Web Links

Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Charles Bonnet.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences
(pp.41-45). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.