GO IN DEPTH

History of Evolutionary Theory

History of Evolutionary Theory Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Introduction

In this lesson, you will engage in a more detailed study of evolution by focusing on the historical origins of Darwin's theory and the ideas that came before it. To do this, you will examine the arguments and theories set forth by three historically important scientists: Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Charles Darwin.


Lamarck's model

Read the translated excerpt from Jean Baptiste de Lamarck’s book, Zoological Philosophy. Based on the reading, answer these questions and be prepared to discuss them in class.

How does Lamarck explain the diversity of organisms?

 

 

Explain Lamarck’s theory of use and disuse of organs.  Do you agree or disagree with his theory?  Why?

 

 

Do you think Lamarck was a good scientist with good scientific explanations?  Why or why not?

 

 

Explain Lamarck’s viewpoint when he states, “Nothing of all this can be considered as hypothesis or private opinion; on the contrary, they are truths which, in order to be made clear, only require attention and the observation of facts.”

 

 

Wallace's model

Read the excerpt from Alfred Russel Wallace’s paper, On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type. Based on the reading, answer these questions and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Wallace claims, "Useful variations will tend to increase, unuseful or hurtful variations to diminish." How does this occur? What evidence does he cite?

 

 

How does Wallace's explanation differ from Lamarck's?

 

 

Do you agree with Wallace’s critique of Lamarck’s hypothesis and his own hypothesis about “the struggle for existence?”

 

 

Darwin's model

Read the excerpt from Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species. Based on the reading, answer these questions and be prepared to discuss them in class.

What led Darwin to formulate his idea about the origin of species?  On what did he base his explanation for his ideas about the origin of species?

 

 

Describe the relationship of Lamarck’s and Wallace’s work to Darwin’s work.

 

 

What data does Darwin rely upon for his argument?

 

 

Did you find this resource helpful?

AAAS