Sunday, August 01, 2010

Panda's Thumb Reminds Us...

...that it is "Happy Lamarck Day." Lamarck is remembered chiefly for incorporation of an ingenious but ultimately failed hypothesis on why things evolved that involved organisms passing on traits that they had subsumed within the course of their lives. He knew organisms changed and evolved, but like so many, he struggled for a mechanism. As Panda's Thumb points out in a related post:
Two misconceptions:
  • He was not a pseudoscientist or a quack, but was the great figure of invertebrate biology (he coined the word “invertebrate” and the word “biology”).
  • He was not the originator or major advocate of inheritance of acquired characters (miscalled “Lamarckian inheritance”). He accepted it and used it in his mechanism, but he had nothing to do with its wide acceptance.
Like Darwin, Lamarck has been widely misunderstood and should also serve as a reminder that there were many researchers during the late 1700s and early to mid 1800s that were coming to understand that natural organisms evolved. It was not until Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace that a workable mechanism was devised. These are facts that largely get lost on most anti-evolution proponents.

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