His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier. Buffon published thirty-six quarto volumes of his Histoire Naturelle during his lifetime; with additional volumes based on his notes and further research being published in the two decades following his death.
Ernst Mayr wrote that "Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of the 18th century".
Buffon held the position of intendant (director) at the Jardin du Roi, now called the Jardin des Plantes.
Georges Louis Leclerc (later Comte de Buffon) was born at Montbard, in the Province of Burgundy to Benjamin Francois Leclerc, a minor local official in charge of the salt tax and Anne-Christine Marlin also from a family of civil servants. Georges was named after his mother’s uncle (his godfather) Georges Blaisot, the tax-farmer of the Duke of Savoy for all of Sicily. In 1714 Blaisot died childless, leaving a considerable fortune to his seven-year-old godson. Benjamin Leclerc then purchased an estate containing the nearby village of Buffon and moved the family to Dijon acquiring various offices there as well as a seat in the Dijon Parlement.
Georges attended the Jesuit College of Godrans in Dijon from the age of ten onwards. From 1723–1726 he then studied law in Dijon, the prerequisite for continuing the family tradition in civil service. In 1728 Georges left Dijon to study mathematics and medicine at the University of Angers in France. At Angers in 1730 he made the acquaintance of the young English Duke of Kingston, who was on his grand tour of Europe, and traveled with him on a large and expensive entourage for a year and a half through southern France and parts of Italy. Georges-Louis Leclerc had an elder brother, Pierre Daubenton (1703–1776), who wrote numerous articles for the Encyclopédie by Diderot