Buffon became the "intendant" of the Jardin du Roi in 1736 and his Histoire naturelle has, as its base, his descriptive catalogue of the specimens of the "cabinet du roi". The third volume is concerned with the Natural History of Man. In the introduction to the work, he remarks that, even more than the most exact descriptions and the best illustrations, "Nothing contributes more to the advancement of Natural History, than the continual observation of the objects of which it comprises."
Buffon (pp. 120) relates the case reported in a letter of July 1685 by Silvestre, a doctor in the Faculté de Paris, of a patient who had broken both bones of the forearm. He would not allow the bones to be set for fear of the pain and would suffer only to have the arm wrapped in bandages. The arm eventually developed an articulation at the site of the fracture which caused him no pain or discomfort. Upon the death of the patient, his body was obtained from his relatives and dissected to reveal the nature of this articulation