Evolution: History


The modern theory of evolution was founded by Charles Darwin, but an overview of the history of evolutionism shows that ideas of the transformation of species predated the publication of his Origin of Species in 1859. Various theories of progressive and purposeful change in the organic world had begun to circulate even before Darwin's more radical theory was injected into the debate. Natural selection was regarded as a materialistic idea, and through the late nineteenth century naturalists searched for alternatives that would allow them to believe that the history of life had an ultimate purpose. A complex series of developments in the early twentieth century was needed to create the genetical theory of natural selection accepted by most biologists today.

Keywords: evolution; Darwin; darwinism; lamarckism

Further Reading

Bowler PJ (1983) The Eclipse of Darwinism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bowler PJ (1989) Evolution: The History of an Idea. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Desmond A (1989) The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine and Reform in Radical London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gillispie CC (1959) Genesis and Geology. New York: Harper.

Glass B, Temkin OL and Strauss W (eds) (1959) Forerunners of Darwin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Greene JC (1959) The Death of Adam. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

Mayr E (1982) The Growth of Biological Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mayr E and Provine WB (eds) (1980) The Evolutionary Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ruse M (1979) The Darwinian Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Smocovitis VB (1996) Unifying Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Bowler, Peter J(Sep 2010) Evolution: History. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001517.pub2]