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Darwin9 - Darwin's Precursors and Influences Common descent...

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Darwin's Precursors and Influences Common descent Theories of common descent precede Darwin. The earliest I have information of is in a 1745 book by French physicist Pierre Maupertuis, Vénus Physique , in which he also proposed that inheritance was derived equally from each parent, in a particulate form, with something like Mendel's ratio 1 . Charles' grandfather Erasmus Darwin also proposed it ( Zoonomia , 1795, section 39, "Generation") in a speculative passage, where he thought all warm-blooded animals were descended from a single "living filament" created by God, getting closer to common descent for all organisms: All which seem to have been gradually produced during many generations by the perpetual endeavour of the creatures to supply the want of food, and to have been delievered to their posterity with constant improvement of them for the purposes required. ...would it be too bold to imagine, that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE endued with animality...? 2 Linnaeus (right) One surprising statement of limited common descent is found in Linnaeus, the great originator of modern taxonomy, who is popularly cited to have thought that species were immutable. In his last editions of his Systema Naturae (1766) he omitted the assertion of the earlier editions that no new species arise, after he observed hybridisation and varietal distribution in plants. He also made the discovery usually
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