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Lecture 12 - Natural History and Taxonomy

Lecture 12 - Natural History and Taxonomy - I The Darwinian...

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I. The Darwinian Revolution a. Species an natural history: i. Weren’t apart of the important focuses such as microbiology. They had to do with issues of embryology. The essence as taxonomy that was linking, separating, or grouping species. This is what Darwin is centrally concerned with. Naturally history had already undergone some important changes with respect to the eighteenth century changes to natural history. In the 19 th century there are more changes. II. Georges Cuvier (1769 – 1832) a. Museum of Natural History i. Spent a lot of spare time reading about natural history and studying animals that lived on the sea shore and doing field work and dissection and writing up his results. He then became a local bureaucrat. He goes to Paris in 1795 and was given a junior position at the museum of natural history. In the same year he is elected to the renamed Academy of Sciences, or the first class of the institute. It is peculiar how he managed to get these jobs so quickly. He arrives in Paris and is set up in these good positions. ii. Was supported by the state as a experiment facility. It was very much an exception. He was good at running things and this combined with Napoleons love of science benefited Cuvier just as it benefited Laplace. He was so good at this work that he was used for Napoleons reforms in higher education that he remained in a central important position. b. The goal of natural classification i. He was considered the number one person in zoology and he did work hard at it in the museum. Linnaeus had regarded his taxonomic systems as fundamentally artificial classification systems that were practically useful when you were trying to classify things in a system that were easy to place and easy to recover. He thought that plants and animals were interrelated because God knew the whole world. ii. Others thought that natural classification was ideal but they were not sure if this captured the classification that was immanent or imbedded in natural classification. Most people thought the existing systems were artificial and not provable in being nautal classifications.
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