Darwin12 - Darwin's Precursors and Influences 1...

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Darwin's Precursors and Influences 1. Transmutationism The view that species change is an old one, but in the scientific tradition it derives from Lamarck, who made it a more or less respectable view. Numerous earlier writers, including Linnaeus, Maupertuis, Buffon, and even Aristotle, had suggested that some species might give rise to new species, but this was contrary to church teaching and was a dangerous view to hold in Christian Europe. There were hints of species transmutation in the ancient Greek writers, but their views tended to ignore heredity, and so do not count as truly evolutionary. 1 Jean Baptiste de Lamarck In the late 18th century, Cuvier in France had described extinct mammals and Blumenbach in Germany had described fossil shellfish that were now extinct. In 1800, Lamarck adopted and modified the neo-Platonic view of Bonnet of a gradual series or scale from inanimate matter to the most perfect being, and added a principle of transition over time. Moreover, Lamarck added that the transition was not a ladder, but a branching tree, with new forms created. However, Lamarck asserted the existence of a number of qualitatively separate trees for different lineages - several for animals and several for plants and other forms of life - rather than a common tree for all life. Lamarck accepted the then widely-held view of the possibility of the spontaneous generation of new living forms from
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Darwin12 - Darwin's Precursors and Influences 1...

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