Zoology 304

Biographical Notes.

The information on this page provides a minimal historical context for persons mentioned elsewhere in the ZOOL 304 course notes.

Also see Lefalophodon, an informal history of evolutionary biology website.

For most of these persons, more information is available elsewhere on the Web.  Some outside pages are directly linked from the entries below.  For more (often much more), just cut-and-paste the name into a general-purpose search engine (e.g., Yahoo.com) and explore.

Any student enrolled in ZOOL 304 may earn extra credit by submitting entries for this page.  Click here for details.

Names are listed alphabetically below.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Also see book listing, on the history of evolutionary thought., Lefalophodon

Image acknowledgement / Copyright info.

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Louis Agassiz (1807-1873).  Prominent paleontologist, known for his expertise on fossil fishes and for interpreting geological evidence for Pleistocene continental glaciation (i.e., "the Ice Age").  Hostile to the concept of evolution by natural selection, Agassiz was an important scientific opponent of Darwin.

(Lefalophodon)    (more)

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Aristotle (384-322 B.C.).  Ancient Greek philosopher-scientist, Aristotle's massive compilation of observation and speculation shaped the history of science and philosophy for centuries.  Aristotle systematically developed the scala naturae (or Great Chain of Being), in which all species could be arranged into a single ranking from simplest to most advanced.  Also known for the explanatory principles of four causes, including purpose (telos, from which the word teleology derives) for all things in the natural world.

(UCB Museum of Paleontology)    (more)    (more)    (Aristotle's works)

(ancient Greek views on evolution)

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Karl von Baer ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(Lefalophodon)

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Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892).  Entomologist, companion of A.R. Wallace collecting in the Amazon; described "Batesian mimicry".  His autobiographical account of his experiences The Naturalist on the River Amazons (1863)

(Lefalophodon)

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William Bateson (1861-1926).  English geneticist, noticed and publicized the significance of Mendel's laws of inheritance.  With Reginald Punnett, discovered genetic linkage.  

(more)    (genetics timeline)

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Graham Bell  Contemporary evolutionary biologist with interests in "evolution of sex and the maintenance of variation".

(more)    (more)

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Charles Bonnet (1720-1793) was a "Swiss naturalist and philosophical writer" who "made law his profession, but [whose] favourite pursuit was the study of natural science."  

Acknowledgment:  Most of the information and all of the quotations in this note on Bonnet come from The Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition (1910), Vol. 4, pp. 211-212.

In 1740, Bonnet published an account of parthenogenetic reproduction in aphids, a remarkable process in which females do not lay eggs but bear live young in whose bodies at their time of birth the next generation of offspring are already forming (also see our course text, Stearns & Hoekstra, pp. 139-140.)

Bonnet's observations on aphids are especially curious in light of his support for the idea of preformationism, which held that all future generations are contained within the germ.

Bonnet also studied reproduction and regeneration of hydra, the anatomy of insect respiration, and tropisms of plants. Later, with failing eyesight, he turned to philosophy, particularly "the doctrine of pre-existent germs" (i.e., preformationism).

The philosophical alternative to preformation is epigenesis, the seemingly absurd idea that interacting parts somehow manage to contrive themselves into a developing body.  Of course, the experimental program inspired by epigenesis led to modern developmental biology, while preformationism (which is in some ways closer to the modern idea of hereditary information than epigenesis) has become a target of scorn...

"In his Contemplation de la nature (Amsterdam, 1764-1765; translated into Italian, German, English and Dutch), one of his most popular and delightful works, he sets forth, in eloquent language, the theory that all the beings in nature form a gradual scale rising from lowest to highest, without any break in its continuity" (quoted from Britannica).

"Bonnet's metaphysical theory is based on two principles borrowed from Leibnitz--first, that there are not successive acts of creation, but that the universe is completed by the single original act of the divine will, and thereafter moves on by its own inherent force; and secondly, that there is no break in the continuity of existence.  The divine Being originally created a multitude of germs in a graduated scale, each with an inherent power of self-development. At every successive step in the progress of the universe, these germs, as progressively modified, advance nearer to perfection..." (quoted from Britannica).

Such ideas, in spite of their somewhat quaint ring, represent important developments in the modern scientific worldview, particularly the idea that the universe operates entirely under its own inherent rules (whether or not a "divine Being" was responsible for "creation", for setting up the rules and initial conditions in the first place).

And of course "preformationism", although easy to ridicule from a modern perspective, represented a serious effort to come to terms with the mystery of embryological development--i.e., the problem of how eggs acquire the "information" (literally, the form within) that somehow "informs" development.

Bonnet also interested himself in nerve function.  "Charles Bonnet syndrome", the phenomenon of detailed visual hallucinations consequent to blindness, is named after him, .

 

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William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925).  Politician, orator, presidential candidate, and religious fundamentalist.  Bryan famously argued for the prosecution (i.e., against evolution) during the Scopes Trial (but note that the familiar play and movie, Inherit the Wind, is a theatrical fiction, not an accurate portrayal of the trial).  The arguments used by Bryan are still popular among creationists.  Bryan's antipathy toward evolution was influenced not only by religious fundamentalism but also by the evils of social darwinism and of imperialist Germany (the latter inspired by the evolutionism of Ernst Haeckel).  

(more)    (more)   (more)   (more on the Scopes Trial)

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Georges-Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon (1707-1788).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

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Robert Chambers (1802-1871).  Author of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844) (text), a popular work of natural history published fifteen years before Darwin's great work.  Vestiges introduced the idea of evolution to a wide audience, and thereby helped prepare the way for later acceptance of Darwin's theory.  Nevertheless, Chamber's work was much criticized at the time, not only for being "immoral and godless" but also for numerous errors in scientific detail and the lack of a plausible mechanism to explain evolution.

 

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Georges Cuvier (1769-1832).  The founder of comparative anatomy, earned a reputation for interpreting past life from fossil bones.  Cuvier mustered evidence for extinction, especially of giant animals.  

As the world of the 18th and 19th centuries became ever more thoroughly explored, the possibility of large fossil animals (dinosaurs, mammoths) being discovered alive faded, although mastodon remains in the eastern United States led Thomas Jefferson to entertain thoughts that Lewis and Clark's expedition might find mastodons still living in the great western wilderness.

Cuvier believed in discontinuity (and catastrophism) rather than the scala naturae, and thought progressive evolutionism was inconsistent with the evidence.

(Lefalophodon)   (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

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Clarence Darrow (1857-1938).  Defense attorney in the Scopes Trial.

(more)   (more)   (more on the Scopes Trial)

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Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 - April 19, 1882).  Great naturalist, introduced our modern view of evolution with his Origin of Species in 1859.

(AboutAarwin.com)    (Darwiniana&Evolution)    (R.A. Hatch, The Darwin Page)   (BBC Evolution Website)   (Univ. S. Carolina)    (darwinday)    (AMNH)
 

elderly Darwin

(Darwin Digital Library)

 (The Origin of Species, full text online) 
(The Voyage of theBeagle, full text online) 

(Darwin's diary, excerpts from PBS)

(Darwin's autobiography)

(Darwin's correspondence -- online database)

(The complete work of Charles Darwin online -- under construction)

Janet Browne has written a superb biography of Charles Darwin, in two volumes.

  • Charles Darwin, Voyaging, 1995.
  • Charles Darwin, The Power of Place, 2002.

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young Darwin

 

 

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E. Darwin Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802).  Grandfather of Charles Darwin, wrote his ideas about evolution in Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life (1794) (excerpt).  Also famous for epic poetry, including The Botanic Garden (1789), which rather scandalously (for the time) described the sex lives of plants (excerpt) (excerpt), and The Temple of Nature (1803).  

(UCB Museum of Paleontology) (more)  (The life and times of Erasmus Darwin, with special attention to his possible influence on the work of Charles Darwin and on the conflict between conservatism and modernism, from G. de Beer, Royal Navy hydrographer to FitzRoy, Captain of The Beagle)

Erasmus ("Ras") Darwin (1804 - 1881) is also the name of Charles Darwin's elder brother.

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Richard Dawkins (born 1941).  Evolutionary biologist, prolific writer, and popularizer of a highly reductionistic, gene-centric view of evolution.  Perhaps best known for his book, The Selfish Gene.

More:  (www.world-of-dawkins.com)

 

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Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975).  One of the architects of the Modern Synthesis, with an emphasis on genetic mechanisms.  Author of Genetics and the Origin of Species.

Noted Dobzhansky quote:  "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." (The American Biology Teacher, March 1973, 35:125-129)

(more)

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T. Dobzhansky

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Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962).  Mathematician, theoretical geneticist, one of the architects of the Modern Synthesis, with an emphasis on selection and population genetics.  

Fisher famously disagreed with Sewall Wright (another of the founders of the Modern Synthesis) on the relative importance of selection and drift.

(more)  (more)  (more)  (more)

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Captain FitzRoyCaptain Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865).  Captain of the HMS Beagle during Darwin's epic voyage.

Darwin had been taken on board the Beagle as a gentleman companion for FitzRoy.  (The dictates of Britain's class system prohibited a ship's captain from socializing with his crew.)  The Beagle's assignment was primarily to chart the coasts of Argentina, Chile and Ecuador, visiting several Pacific islands on the return.

One of the more poignant episodes of the Beagle's voyage involved FitzRoy's pet project to repatriate three Tierra del Fuegan natives who had been kidnapped on a previous voyage and taken to England to be "civilized".  These Fuegan's (Jemmy Button, Fuegia Basket, and York Minster) had been taught English and introduced to Christianity.  FitzRoy hoped they would become effective missionaries in their homeland, but they quickly abandoned their new European habits in the harsh environment of Tierra del Fuego.  (Read more in Chapter 10 of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle.)

FitzRoy rose to the naval rank of admiral, served for two years as governor of New Zealand, and is noted for his meteorological studies (including invention of a barometer).  Later in life, FitzRoy was vehemently opposed, on religious grounds, to Darwin's ideas of evolution.  Yet he himself had played a key role in Darwin's intellectual development.  He was a tragic figure, striving for greatness but suffering severe bouts of depression.  He eventually committed suicide.

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(more)    (more)

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).  One of the founders of modern physics, noted for using mathematics to describe motion, for discovering the principle of the pendulum clock, and for pioneering telescopic observations of the moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus.

For supporting a Copernican (i.e., sun-centered) view of the earth and planetary motion, he was sentenced to house arrest by the Pope of the Catholic Church.  This incident stands as an archetypal example of scientific understanding in conflict with religious dogma, a problem which continues to beset evolutionary biology.

(more)   (trial of Galileo)

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Francis Galton (1822-1911).  Cousin of Charles Darwin (grandson of Charles' grandfather, Erasmus Darwin).  Noted as the founder of eugenics.

(more)    (more)    (Lefalophodon)

(more, includes Galton' papers)    

"Statistical inquiries into the efficacy of prayer", by Francis Galton, 1872

 

 

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F. Galton

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Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

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Goethe ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)

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Richard Goldschmidt (1878-1958).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)

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Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888).  English naturalist noted for his peculiar attempt to reconcile biblical literalism with scientific information about earth's history.

In his book Omphalos, Gosse developed an elegant and logically consistent escape from the conflict between biblical and and scientific accounts of the earth's origin.  This is the simple idea that the world was created at some particular, recent time, but created with evidence of a past history.  Omphalos is Greek for "navel", referring to the classic unanswerable question of whether or not God created Adam and Eve with navels (which of course, in every subsequent generation, provide evidence of the umbilical cord's point of attachment at birth).  Gosse proposed that a functioning world necessarily contains the signs of previous cycles of change.  The logic of this version of creation is unimpeachable; its main weakness is simply that it is silly.  No one (with the exception of Gosse) has ever taken much interest in this particular mode of "explanation".  (Wikipedia on Gosse)    (more on Omphalos)

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Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 - May 20, 2002).  Evolutionary biologist and prolific writer, acclaimed for numerous books and for a long-running series of essays in Natural History magazine (collected in several volumes listed here).  Noted for the concept of punctuated equilibrium.

(Steven Jay Gould archive, a very rich resource for evolution generally)

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embryo diagram by HaeckelErnst Haeckel (1823-1913).  Comparative anatomist and embryologist.  Prominent continental exponent for evolution.  Perhaps best known among biology students for the phrase "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."  

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Haeckel was one of the most notorious advocates of anti-theistic scientism.  As reported by Loren Eiseley (in Darwin's Century):

It was natural enough, in the eagerness to communicate a great scientific truth, that Darwin's followers, more dogmatically than Darwin, told and retold the tale . . .  Haeckel, in a statement of 1877, contended that "the cell consists of matter called protoplasm, composed chiefly of carbon . . .  These component parts, properly united, produce the soul and body of man.  With this single argument the mystery of the universe is explained, the Deity is annulled and a new era of infinite knowledge is ushered in."  This, it can be readily observed, is a very large order indeed.

Haeckel also infamously provided scientific/philosophical justification for German imperialist politics, which led to the evils of Nazi death camps and World War II.  This connection -- from Darwin through Haeckel to Hitler -- has cast a pall over evolution ever since, abetted by the social darwinism of Herbert Spencer.

Such historical connections unfortunately inspire the righteous indignation of anti-evolutionists, as do recent revelations that Haeckel's illustrations of embryos, which innumerable biology textbooks have used to document evolution, were artistically exaggerated (i.e., scientifically fraudulent).

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)    (ontogeny and phylogeny)    (revision of Haeckel's embryo pictures)

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J.B.S. Haldane ().  ("an inordinate fondness for beetles") [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)

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William D. Hamilton (1936-2000).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)

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Willi Hennig ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)

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Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (18171911).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE.]

More:  (jdhooker.org)

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James Hutton (1726-1797).  "The father of modern geology", Hutton established an observational basis (example) for appreciating the immense duration of time in Earth's history.  Hutton's Theory of the Earth (1785) contained the famous phrase describing Earth's history, "No vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end."  Hutton's own writing was famously difficult; his ideas were popularized through the work of John Playfair.

Here is how Hutton's life is described by James Burke (Scientific American, October 1998, p. 132):

"...Hutton was a great example of the Scottish Renaissance man...  He studied humanities, physics, geography, law, medicine and chemistry and qualified as a doctor.  Then, in the manner of such eclectic people, he became a farmer.  Why not?  It may have been his consequent landowner's interest in rocks and soil that got him into geology. In 1764 he began a series of trips to stonier parts of the British Isles, tapping and chipping away...  Well, all the hammering must have been really productive, because in 1785 Hutton penned the outline of a modest work, eventually published under the modest title of Theory of the Earth, and blew everybody away with his description of a great, cyclical process:  land degradation by erosion, resultant deposits washed into the sea, sedimentary layers settling over millions of years, ultimately to be thrown up again, to be eroded once more and so on.  And, as Hutton said, if this process had taken as long in the past as it seemed to take in the modern world, then the planet was humongously ancient, never mind the Bible. It would be this particular bit of Hutton's geologic uniformitarianism ... that would in time inspire Darwin."

(more) (more) (more) (more) (more)

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Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895).  "Darwin"s Bulldog", prominent exponent of evolution by natural selection and, more generally, for a naturalistic understanding of the universe.

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)   (The Huxley File )

 

 

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caricature of T.H. Huxley

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Lord KelvinSir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907).  Scottish physicist, one of the great 19th century pioneers of thermodynamics.  Kelvin is noted for using the new science of thermodynamics to calculate the age of the earth.  The result, at most a few tens of millions of years, allowed far too little time to accommodate the implications of geology and evolution.  For Darwin, Kelvin's conclusion was an "odious spectre" which threatened his theory.  Kelvin's calculations were based on several sources of evidence, including sound thermodynamic theory, but did not take into account fluid convection in the earth's core and mantle (see American Scientist 95:342-349, July-August 2007), nor the still-discovered phenomena of radioactivity (which introduces heat into the earth) and nuclear fusion (which powers the sun's radiation). 

(more, from PhysicsWeb)   (more)

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Kimura ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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David Lack (1910-1973).  British ornithologist, noted for studying the evolution of reproductive strategies.  

David Lack, 1947, The significance of clutch size, Ibis 89: 302352.

(more)  

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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829).  Eminent zoologist, most famous for advocating evolution prior to Darwin.  Lamarck's theory was based on an unexplained innate tendency toward advancement ("progress"), a view which has been much caricatured and ridiculed.

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)   (Also see S.J.Gould's essay, "A division of worms / The use and disuse of Lamarck", Natural History, February 1999, continued in the March issue.)

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Joseph Leidy (1832-1891)  19th century American scientist, paleontologist, parasitologist (recommended cooking pork well to avoid trichinosi), protozoologist (described among other things the symbiotic protists which live in termite guts).

(more)   (more)   (more)   (Lefalophodon)

Print biography, Joseph Leidy, The Last Man Who Knew Everything by Leonard Warren (1998, Oxford Univ. Press).

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).  The prototype "Renaissance Man", most famous as a painter (e.g., the Mona Lisa) but also known as an anatomist, inventor, and scientist.  Observed and correctly interpreted fossils in the mountains of Italy.  

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)   (Boston Museum of Science)   (Also see S.J. Gould's essay in Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms".)

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Lewontin ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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Carl von Linne, Carolus Linneaus (1707-1778).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

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Charles Lyell (1797-1875), is famous for the concept of uniformitarian geology.  What shaped the past is the same as what acts in the present.  His Principles of Geology (1830-33) inspired Darwin, who read Lyell during his voyage on board the H.M.S. Beagle.  But Lyell never accepted the transformation of species.

(more) (more)

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C. Lyell

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Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-1976).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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Thomas Malthus (1766-1834).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

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John Maynard Smith (1920-2004).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(Univ. Sussex obituary site with many links)  (more from Wikipedia)

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Ernst Mayr (1904-2005).  One of the architects of the Modern Synthesis, with an emphasis on speciation.  Author of Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942).  

On July 5, 2004, Enrst Mayr reached his 100th birthday, still going strong!  Sadly, Mayr died a few months later, on Feb. 3, 2005.

Celebratory essay in Science 305: 46-47 (July 2, 2004).

Interview by Scientific American.

Brief biography by E. Pennisi, Science 305: 37.

(more)  

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Gregor Mendel (July 20, 1822 - January 6, 1884).  Moravian monk (ordained as priest, August 6, 1847).  Discoverer of the fundamental principles of "mendelian" genetics.  

Mendel's work was published in 1866 (not long after Darwin's Origin) but did not gain widespread recognition until the turn of the century, years after Mendel's death. The "Modern Synthesis" emerged when principles from Mendelian genetics were incorporated into evolutionary theory by Fisher, Haldane, Wright, and others.

More:  (mendelweb.org)    (genetics timeline)

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G. Mendel

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St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900).  English biologist, scientific opponent of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.  Mivart is most noted for one particular objection, that the inutility of incipient stages of complex adaptations argues against their origin by natural selection.  How could selection favor birds' wings, for example, before wings had become perfect-enough for flight?  Wouldn't "half a wing" (i.e., an early stage not yet adequate for actual flight) be disadvantageous and therefore be selected against?

Mivart's objection is often caricatured as an "argument from ignorance".  That is, the mere fact that science has not yet demonstrated (nor, perhaps, even imagined) a route by which selection could favor the evolution of some particular adaptation should not be a telling argument against such evolution.  As a general rebuttal, complex adaptations need not have been shaped initially for their current function.  Structures selected for one role often acquire other more-or-less incidental functions that can be quite imperfect and yet become the basis for a new direction of selection. 

The effect of Mivart's argument has been so nettling (in various forms, it continues to be reiterated by most anti-evolutionists), and the rebuttal so powerful, that modern biology has become accustomed to dismissing any question of the adequacy of Darwinian processes to shape complex adaptations.  Nevertheless, although the presumption that all complex, functional design has indeed been shaped by selection is almost certainly valid, significant questions may remain about how underlying genetic and developmental systems can sustain appropriate variation; such questions are seldom even asked.

More:  (Catholic Encyclopedia)  (Selection from Mivart's On the Genesis of the Species)

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Occam, William of -- alphabetized under W; see William of Occam.  

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Richard Owen (1804-1892).  Prominent comparative anatomist, introduced the terms "homology" and "dinosaur".  Although Owen helped describe and classify specimens which Darwin brought back from the expeditions of the H.M.S. Beagle, Owen became extremely hostile to Darwin and the concept of evolution by natural selection after publication of Darwin's Origin of Species.

For Owen, the deep similarities in form which he called homologies provided evidence of underlying "archetypes" (an abstract representation of Divine plan), not of genealogical descent.

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William Paley (1743-1805)  Writer best known for Natural Theology (1802), a work which eloquently presented the teleological "argument from design", also called "the design inference".  Paley interprets the complexity of adaptation as evidence of Divine purpose and design.  Paley's metaphor of the watch is infamous as inspiration for much subsequent anti-evolution argument:

"IN crossing a health, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer.  But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there.  Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? why is it not as admissible in the second case, as in the first?  For this reason, and for no other, viz. that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose. ... [Here Paley describes in some detail the workings of a pocketwatch.] ... This mechanism being observed ..., the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker:  that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. ...  Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exist in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.  I mean that the contrivances of nature surpass the contrivances of art, in the complexity, subtlety, and curiosity of the mechanism; and still more, if possible, do they go beyond them in number and variety; yet in a multitude of cases, are not less evidently mechanical, not less evidently contrivances, not less evidently accommodated to their end, or suited to their office, than are the most perfect productions of human ingenuity..." (more)

Thus Paley argued that the adaptative structure of living creatures is like the watch.  The obvious evidence of purposeful design in nature implies the existence of a Designer.

Incidently, Darwin read Paley while studying to become a clergyman at Christ's College, Cambridge University, and writes appreciatively of the experience in his autobiography:

"Again, in my last year I worked with some earnestness for my final degree of B.A., and brushed up my Classics, together with a little Algebra and Euclid, which latter gave me much pleasure, as it did at school.  In order to pass the B.A. examination, it was also necessary to get up Paley's Evidences of Christianity, and his Moral Philosophy.  This was done in a thorough manner, and I am convinced that I could have written out the whole of the Evidences with perfect correctness, but not of course in the clear language of Paley.  The logic of this book and, as I may add, of his Natural Theology, gave me as much delight as did Euclid.  The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the academical course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind.  I did not at that time trouble myself about Paley's premises; and taking these on trust, I was charmed and convinced by the long line of argumentation.  By answering well the examination questions in Paley, by doing Euclid well, and by not failing miserably in Classics, I gained a good place among the oi polloi or crowd of men who do not go in for honours."

(more)  (selections from works)

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Louis Pasteur ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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Reginald Crundall Punnett (1875-1967).  English geneticist, co-discoverer (with William Bateson) of genetic linkage.  His name is most familiar to biology students from the eponymous Punnett Square, a tool used to visualize the relationship between allele frequencies and genotype frequencies.

(more)    (more)    (explanation of Punnett Squares)    (genetics timeline)

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John Scopes (1900-1970).  Defendent in the infamous Tennessee Scopes Trial, or "monkey trial", accused and convicted of teaching evolution in public school.

(more)   (more)

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George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984).  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

(more)   (Lefalophodon)

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John Maynard Smith -- alphabetized under M; see Maynard Smith, John.  

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William Smith (1769-1839).  Geologist (mine surveyor and canal builder, employed on behalf of the emerging industrial revolution to supply coal for steam engines and factories).  Smith introduced the idea that sedimentary strata could be identified and arranged into sequence by the fossils they contain.

"And I presume to think, that the accurate surveys and examinations of the strata ... to which I have devoted the whole period of my life ... have enabled me to prove that there is a great degree of regularity in the position and thickness of all these strata ... and that each stratum is also possessed of properties peculiar to itself, has the same exterior characters and chemical qualities, and the same extraneous or organized fossils throughout its course.  I have ... collected specimens of each stratum, and of the peculiar extraneous fossils, organic remains, and vegetable impressions, and compared them with others from very distant parts of the island ... and have arranged them in the same order as they lay in the earth; which arrangement must readily convince every scientific or discerning person, that the earth is formed ... according to regular and immutable laws, which are discoverable by human industry and observation, and which form a legitimate and most important object of science" (W. Smith, as quoted in Geology Illustrated, John Shelton, 1976).

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

 

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Herbert Spencer ().  Nineteenth Century writer and philosopher, source of the popular (and misleading) phrase "survival of the fittest".  

According to Stephen Jay Gould, "Herbert Spencer's progressivist view of natural change probably exerted the greatest influence in establishing 'evolution' as the general name for Darwin's process, for Spencer held a dominating status as Victorian pundit and grand panjandrum of nearly everything conceptual."  (source-text for this quote)

(more)    (Spencer's views on evolution)

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Nicholas Steno (1638-1686).  Known for interpreting fossils as remains of living creatures and for introducing some basic principles of geology.

More:  (UCB Museum of Paleontology)

For a print biography of Steno, see:

The Seashell on the Mountaintop:  A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genius who Discovered a New History of the Earth, by Alan Cutler, Dutton (Penguin) 2003.

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N. Steno

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Sir William Thomson -- See Lord Kelvin.  

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Bishop James Ussher -- Scholar famous for determining the date of Creation (primarily from scriptural sources) as the year 4004 B.C.  

(more)

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Tenniel's engraving of Alice and the Red Queen, from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"Leigh Van Valen.  Eccentric evolutionary theorist.  Noted for his "Red Queen Hypothesis".

More:  (Univ. Chicago faculty)  

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Karl von Baer -- See von Baer, Karl .

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Alfred Russel Wallace (January 8, 1823 - November 7, 1913).  Famous naturalist, renowned as the "co-discoverer" with Darwin of the principle of evolution by natural selection.

(more)     (more)  

(Also see Richard Milner's essay, "Charles Darwin and Associates, Ghostbusters", Scientific American, October 1996, on the fad of spiritualism in Britain in the late 1800s, discussing Darwin's and Wallace's opposite roles.)

 

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Alfred Russell Wallace

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August Weismann ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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William WhewellWilliam Whewell (1794-1866).   (Whewell is pronounced "Hule".)  Whewell was an eminent philosopher of science. He introduced the concept of "consilience of induction."

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William of Occam or Ockham (ca. 1285 - ca. 1349).  

Philosopher who gave us Occam's Razor (or Ockham's Razor), the principle that "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" (or "Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem").  "Entities (or essentials) shall not be multiplied beyond necessity."  This is usually interpreted to mean, in science, that one should accept the simplest hypothesis which adequately explains the facts.  

(more)    (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)    (more)    (more)    (more)

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photograph of George WilliamsGeorge C. Williams (1926-2010).  

Author of classic volume, Adaptation and Natural Selection, 1966; eloquent advocate for a gene-centered view of selection (especially as opposed to group selection).

More:  New York Times obituary by Nicholas Wade  |  Chronical of Higher Education obituary by Michael Ruse  |  Obituary by Douglas Futuyma

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E.O. Wilson ().  [ EARN EXTRA CREDIT BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY FOR THIS SITE. ]

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Sewall Wright (1889-1988).  Evolutionary biologist, one of the founders of the Modern Synthesis, noted for the shifting balance theory and the associated idea of an "adaptive landscape".  Disagreed with another of the founders, R.A. Fisher, on the relative importance of selection and drift.

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