Thursday, February 11, 2016

Historical Influences

1. I believe that it can be argued that French naturalist, Jean-Baptiste Lamark, had the most influence over Darwin's development of his theory of Natural selection.

2. Lamark contributed to the scientific community in numerous ways but began by being one of the first to propose that humans evolved from a lower species through adaptions over time. Although his primary theory was was proved wrong, he continued making observations and with his explanations he combined, this lead to having a new process of thinking which has made an impact of Darwin and had him inspired. Jean-Baptiste's evolution theory started out as very simple however it eventually built up until it was created into a complex human form. He believed that if an organism changed during life it's life in order to adapt to its environment, those changes will then be passed on to its offspring. His thought on change was that it is made by what the organisms want or need. Another theory of his was that the body parts that are not being used will gradually be disappearing. Lamarck's additional beliefs of evolution was that it happens based on a plan which leads to having the results already been decided.

3. The concept that was most affected by Lamark's work was the evolutionary concept if the environment changes, the traits that are helpful or adaptive to that environment will be different. Despite being proved wrong, his hypotheses and observations is what began the study of different species and their ability to adapt to the environment. This lead to discovering the new adaptive traits that will have a higher reproductive success than others, not only that, but the new traits will spread which will have an impact in the population. This is the process of natural selection; the natural environment selecting the organisms that will be the most successful.

4. Although many of Darwin's theories have been supported by a numerous amount of evidence, it is possible that Darwin may have developed his theory of natural selection without the work of Lamarck. I'm sure there are many others who have the same idea or thoughts but don't have a sufficient evidence to support their theories. Anyone can be influenced by anyone's work, even if their ideas have not been proven. As for Lamarck, despite being proved wrong, his ideas and thoughts could have been an influence on Darwin. Darwin and Lamark both thought that life had changed gradually over time and was still changing and that living things change in order to adapt to their environments. They both could have approached their ideas differently and receive different results, but it is possible that they may have been influenced by each other or even others.

5. The attitude of the church affected Darwin and his publication. Darwin was not only questioned but he was also criticized when he came out with his publication "On the Origin of Species." His theories and ideas of evolution was received as a disrespect because he was going against the belief of the church's belief of God's work or creation. This is the reason why Darwin kept holding his publication back because he was aware of what might occur when others saw his work. What he predicted came true but Darwin also received a lot of praise for his work.


  1. I enjoyed your post and liked how you explained Lamarck's concepts and how one of his theories was actually proved wrong. I also liked how you mentioned how his hypothesis and observations could have been the main influence for Darwin's theory on natural selection.

  2. I really love how you thoroughly explained how Lamarck had a major influence on Darwin's theory on natural selection. I also think that in the third question you explained the concept that most contributed to Lamarck's concept and his overall view of natural selection. I've learned a lot from this post. Great job!

  3. Thank you Sam and Keyana for your feedback.

  4. Good clear explanation of Lamarck's theory. I do want to point that his work was important not just because he proposed the idea of evolution (which had been explored for a while) but because he was the first to propose an actual mechanism of evolution, explaining not just *if* evolution occurred, but *how* it occurred.

    I agree that the bullet point on the environment directly applies to Lamarck as his theory relied upon the changing environment to produce changes in behaviors which produced physical changes. There are two other points that could be attributed to Lamarck as well. One is that the traits must be heritable. Both Darwin and Lamarck recognized this crucial point, otherwise, traits couldn't get passed on reliably. Finally, both recognized the importance of reproduction in the process.

    A point that is important because Lamarck and Darwin argued in direct opposition to each other is the idea that "Individuals don't evolve, populations do". Lamarck actually argued that individuals DO evolve. Darwin's mechanism didn't predict individual evolution as it acted on existing variation in the population. You can only see evolutionary change at the level of the population across generations, not within generations in an individual.

    I agree with your conclusions in the next section regarding whether or not Darwin could have developed his theory without Lamarck. There is no doubt that Lamarck's ideas had their influence on Darwin, but was that influence so significant that Darwin couldn't have conceived of natural selection without Lamarck? I'm not willing to argue in favor of that point.

    The final question asks only about the influence of the church on Darwin's decision to publish. No one other than a small circle of close friends knew of his work before that point. That doesn't mean the church's influence didn't have an impact on Darwin's decision to publish. Darwin delayed for more than 20 years before publishing. So what caused his delay? What specific repercussions might he and his family have experienced as a result of publishing this controversial work in this scientific and religious environment? (Note that when he did publish, it was generally well-received by the scientific community. The public wasn't too horrified and the church, while not happy, didn't make too much noise about it. It wasn't until recently that the religious right has adopted biblical literalism and come out strongly opposed to evolutionary theory, failing to understand that scientific fact is not shaped by public beliefs or opinions.)