Charles Darwin

Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

On February 16, 1822, the cousin of Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton was born. Galton the polymath, was known for his fundamental contributions to anthropology, geographics, genetics, psychology, statistics, and eugenics. He also was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for…
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The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

The Great Paris Academic Dispute of 1830

On February 15, 1830, the famous Paris Academy Dispute between the naturalists Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and George Cuvier [5] about the possibility of biological evolution began with a speech of Saint-Hillaire comparing vertebrates with mollusces. Within eight public debates the scientists argued about the possibility that nature not necessarily has to be static but might be subject to constant change. It was the most prominent scientific debate in the 19th century that heavily influenced science…
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Charles Darwin and the Natural Selection

Charles Darwin and the Natural Selection

On February 12, 1809, the English naturalist Charles Darwin was born. He popularized the term ‘natural selection‘ as a milestone in modern biology, which was introduced in his masterpiece ‘On the Origin of Species‘ in 1859. It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in these grand scenes; but it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and elevate…
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August Weismann – the Founder of Neo-Darwinism

August Weismann – the Founder of Neo-Darwinism

On January 17, 1834, German evolutionary biologist Friedrich Leopold August Weismann was born. He is considered the second most notable evolutionary theorist of the 19th century, after Charles Darwin, and one of the founders of Neo-Darwinism. “When we are confronted with facts which we see no possibility of understanding save on a single hypothesis, even though it be an undemonstratable one, we are naturally led to accept the hypothesis, at least until a better…
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Charles Lyell and the Principles of Geology

Charles Lyell and the Principles of Geology

On November 14, 1797, Charles Lyell, British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day, was born. Lyell was a close friend to Charles Darwin and is best known as the author of Principles of Geology, which popularized James Hutton‘s concepts of uniformitarianism – the idea that the earth was shaped by the same processes still in operation today. “The form of a coast, the configuration of the interior of a country,…
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Ernst Haeckel and the Phyletic Museum

Ernst Haeckel and the Phyletic Museum

On July 30, 1908, the ‘Phyletic Museum‘ was gifted to the University of Jena due to its 350th anniversary by Ernst Haeckel. The famous zoologist was best known for his approaches in evolution theory. “As our mother earth is a mere speck in the sunbeam in the illimitable universe, so man himself is but a tiny grain of protoplasm in the perishable framework of organic nature. [This] clearly indicates the true place…
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Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

Augustine Pyramus de Candolle and the Biological Clock

On September 9, 1841, Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle passed away. Candolle originated the idea of “Nature’s war”, which influenced Charles Darwin and the principle of natural selection.[3,4] Furthermore, he recognized that multiple species may develop similar characteristics that did not appear in a common evolutionary ancestor; this was later termed analogy. During his work with plants, de Candolle noticed that plant leaf movements follow a near-24-hour cycle in constant light, suggesting that…
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Joseph Dalton Hooker and Taxonomy

Joseph Dalton Hooker and Taxonomy

On June 30, 1817, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker was born, one of the greatest British botanists and explorers of the 19th century. Hooker was a founder of geographical botany and Charles Darwin‘s [4] closest friend. Furthermore, he was assistant on Sir James Ross‘s [3] Antarctic expedition and whose botanical travels to foreign lands included India, Palestine and the U.S., from which he became a leading taxonomists in his time. Joseph Dalton Hooker…
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Sir Francis Beaufort and the Wind Scale

Sir Francis Beaufort and the Wind Scale

On May 27, 1774, Irish hydrographer and officer in the Royal Navy Sir Francis Beaufort was born. Beaufort was the creator of the Beaufort Scale for indicating wind force. In 1806, British Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort devised a simple scale that coastal observers could use to report the state of the sea to the Admiralty. Francis Beaufort – Early Years Francis Beaufort was born at Navan, County Meath, Ireland, the son of…
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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 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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