Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Species Change

in The Meaning of Evolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 1992 | ISBN: 9780226712024
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226712055 | DOI:
Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Species Change

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This chapter describes the early discussions on embryological recapitulation and species evolution and Charles Darwin's views regarding them. From ancient time to the beginning of the nineteenth century, ideas about species change smoldered but failed to ignite the imaginations of most naturalists. Even Aristotle had acknowledged the creation of new kinds of animals through hybridization, and he elaborated the theory that spontaneous generation of insects, worms, and marine invertebrates would later give support to wobbly proposals of species evolution. Although Georges Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, had initially opposed the idea of transmutation, certain breeding experiments and theoretical considerations brought him to the view that the originally created kinds of animals had degenerated into the myriad of species because of the influence of the environment.

Keywords: embryological recapitulation; species evolution; Charles Darwin; Aristotle; transmutation

Chapter.  8146 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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