Abstract : The Danish naturalist Peter Wilhelm Lund (1801-1880), also called “Brazilian Paleontology's father”, was a proponent of the Catastrophism theory formulated by Georges Cuvier. In search of a proof for this theory, Lund excavated thousands of fossils from the some 200 caves of Lagoa Santa (MG) between 1835 and 1844, eventually describing dozens of extinct Pleistocene species. Meanwhile, Lund found fossilized skeletons of some 30 human individuals, that became known as the "People of Lagoa Santa". Soon after that, Lund sent his collections to Denmark and put an end to his fieldwork. But he never returned to his country, remaining in Brazil until his death.
A major question that remains about Lund's life, and the object of this work, is to know why after all he stopped his research? Lund's himself wrote that lack of money was responsible for it. But his biographers choose as scapegoat his physical and intellectual tiredness after years of uninterrupted work in the caves.
The answer, however, is to be found in Lund's letter collection, archived at the Copenhagen Royal Library. The present work is the result of the study of a small part of this correspondence. By analyzing the naturalist's life and his relations to his family, masters and colleagues both in Brazil and Denmark, my hope was to identify the reason for the end the research of one of the most influent scientists of Brazil in the Nineteenth century.