Jean Baptiste Lamarck

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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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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Edward Drinker Cope and the Neo-Lamarckian School of Thought

Edward Drinker Cope and the Neo-Lamarckian School of Thought

On July 28, 1840, American paleontologist and comparative anatomist Edward Drinker Cope was born. Being s well as a noted herpetologist and ichthyologist, he was a founder of the Neo-Lamarckism school of thought. This school believed that changes in developmental (embryonic) timing, not natural selection, was the driving force of evolution. Cope thought that groups of species that shared similar developmental patterns could be grouped into more inclusive groups (i.e. genera, families,…
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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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Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

Comte de Buffon and his Histoire Naturelle

On September 7, 1707, French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was born. Buffon formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier. “Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of…
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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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