Charles Darwin

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

On April 27, 1820, English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era Herbert Spencer was born. Spencer is best known for the expression “survival of the fittest“, which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin‘s On the Origin of Species.[4] This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use…
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Richard Dawkins and the Selfish Gene

Richard Dawkins and the Selfish Gene

On March 26, 1941, English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins was born. Dawkins first came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. With his book The Extended Phenotype (1982), he introduced into evolutionary biology the influential concept that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism’s body, but can stretch far into the…
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Eugene Dubois and the Discovery of the Java Man

Eugene Dubois and the Discovery of the Java Man

On January 28, 1858, Dutch paleoanthropologist and geologist Eugene Dubois was born. Dubois earned worldwide fame for his discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus (later redesignated Homo erectus), or Java Man. Although hominid fossils had been found and studied before, Dubois was the first anthropologist to embark upon a purposeful search for them. Eugene Dubois – Early Years Dubois was born in Eijsden, near Limburg, Netherlands, where his father, Jean Dubois, was an apothecary,…
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Theodosius Dobzhansky and the Unifying modern Evolutionary Synthesis

Theodosius Dobzhansky and the Unifying modern Evolutionary Synthesis

On January 25, 1900, American geneticist and evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky was born. Dobzhansky was a central figure in the field of evolutionary biology for his work in shaping the unifying modern evolutionary synthesis. He made the first significant synthesis of Charles Darwin‘s theory of evolution [6] with Gregor Mendel‘s theory of genetics in his book Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937). “[Evolution] is a general postulate to which all theories, all…
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Alfred Russel Wallace and the Natural Selection

Alfred Russel Wallace and the Natural Selection

On January 8, 1823, British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist Alfred Russel Wallace was born. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin‘s writings in 1858. This prompted Darwin to publish his own ideas in On the Origin of Species [5,6]. “Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time…
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The second Voyage of the HMS Beagle

The second Voyage of the HMS Beagle

On December 27, 1831, the HMS. Beagle set sail from Plymouth Sound under captain Robert FitzRoy [4] with the young graduate Charles Darwin on board for her 5 years voyage. By the end of the expedition Charles Darwin had already made his name as a geologist and fossil collector, and the publication of his journal which became known as The Voyage of the Beagle gave him wide renown as a writer.[5,6] The HM.S.…
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Jean-Henri Fabre – The Virgil of Insects

Jean-Henri Fabre – The Virgil of Insects

On December 22, 1821, French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre was born. Being a prolific author, his greatest achievement lies in the polularization of insect natural history. Victor Hugo dubbed him “the insects’ Homer” and Edmond Rostand named him the “Virgil of insects.” Darwin cited him as “an incomparable observer.” “Book-knowledge is a poor resource … In many cases, ignorance is a good thing: the mind retains its freedom of investigation and does not stray…
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Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

Pjotr Kropotkin and the Theory of Mutual Aid

On December 21, 1842 (or December 8, according to the Gregorian Calendar), Russian geographer, economist, activist, philologist, zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, writer and prominent anarchist Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was born. Besides being a political person, his main scientific contribution is the publication of his theory of mutual aid, voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit as a counter model to the historic concept of an autonomous individual, the…
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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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