Charles Darwin

Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

Peter Simon Pallas – A Pioneer in Zoography

On September 22, 1741, German zoologist and botanist Peter Simon Pallas was born. Pallas was a pioneer in zoogeography by going beyond merely cataloging specimens with simple descriptions, but included observations of causal relationships between animals and their environment. He looked for hidden regularities in natural phenomena over an extreme range of habitats. Peter Simon Pallas – Early Years Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas…
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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

On August 1, 1744, French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was born. Lamarck was an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology. “Do we not therefore perceive that by the action of the laws of organization . . . nature has in favorable times, places, and climates multiplied…
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Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

On July 20, 1804, English biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist Sir Richard Owen was born. Despite being a controversial figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a remarkable gift for interpreting fossils. Owen is probably best remembered today for coining the word Dinosauria (meaning “Terrible Reptile” or “Fearfully Great Reptile“). And today, dinosaurs seem to be more popular than ever, taking into account recent revenues of the latest sequel of…
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Thomas Henry Huxley – Darwin’s Bulldog

Thomas Henry Huxley – Darwin’s Bulldog

On May 4, 1825, English biologist and anthropologist Thomas Henry Huxley was born. A specialist in comparative anatomy he is known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution[8,9]. “If the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs these faculties and that…
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John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

John Lubbock – Banker, Liberal Politician, and Scientist

On April 30, 1834, banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury was born. He was a banker and worked with his family’s company, but also made significant contributions in archaeology, ethnography, and several branches of biology. He helped establish archaeology as a scientific discipline, and was also influential in nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory. John Lubbock also coined the terms Neolithic and Paleolithic. “In this world we do…
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Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

Augustus Pitt Rivers – the Father of British Archaeology

On April 14, 1832, English army officer, ethnologist, and archaeologist Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was born. He is often called the “father of British archaeology”, who stressed the need for total excavation of sites, through stratigraphic observation and recording, and prompt and complete publication. Like Sir Flinders Petrie, Pitt-Rivers adopted a sociological approach to the study of excavated objects and emphasized the instructional value of common artifacts.[4] “Tedious as it may…
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Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

On February 13, 1766, English cleric and scholar Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus was born. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society. Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. His views became…
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Vladimir Vernadsky and the Biosphere

Vladimir Vernadsky and the Biosphere

On March 12 (February 28 according to the old calendar), 1863, Ukrainian and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky was born. He is considered one of the founders of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and of radiogeology. He is most noted for his 1926 book “The Biosphere” in which he popularized the hypothesis that life is the geological force that shapes the Earth. “An organism is involved with the environment to which it is…
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Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

Camille Flammarion and his Balancing Act between Popular Science and Science Fiction

On February 26, 1848, French astronomer and author Nicolas Camille Flammarion was born. He maintained a private observatory, where he studied double and multiple stars, the moon and Mars. He is best known as a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and works on psychical research and related topics. “May we attribute to the color of the herbage and…
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Gregor Mendel and the Rules of Inheritance

Gregor Mendel and the Rules of Inheritance

On February 8, 1865, German-speaking Silesian scientist and Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel publishes his “Versuche über Pflanzenhybride” (Experiments on Plant Hybridization) in which he describes his experiments with peas, which later became the foundation of the so-called Mendelian inheritance of genetics. “It is willingly granted that by cultivation the origination of new varieties is favored, and that by man’s labor many varieties are acquired which, under natural conditions, would be lost; but nothing…
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