Influences on Darwin


How do structures like this form?

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona. Though Arizona was not on Darwin"s itinerary, the work of others that saw and studied Earth"s changing landscape influenced him. One geologist, Charles Lyell, proposed that gradual geological processes have shaped Earth’s surface, inferring that Earth must be far older than most people believed. How else could structures like those shown here develop? If in fact Earth was much older then just 6,000 years, Darwin believed there would have been plenty of time for evolution to occur.

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Earlier Thinkers Who Influenced Darwin

Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) was an important French naturalist. He was one of the first scientists to propose that species change over time. However, Lamarck was wrong about how species change. His idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics is incorrect. Traits an organism develops during its own life time cannot be passed on to offspring, as Lamarck believed. Charles Lyell (1797–1875) was a well-known English geologist. Darwin took Lyell"s book,Principles of Geology, with him on the Beagle. In the book, Lyell argued that gradual geological processes have gradually shaped Earth’s surface. From this, Lyell inferred that Earth must be far older than most people believed. Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) was an English economist. He wrote an essay titled On Population. In the essay, Malthus argued that human populations grow faster than the resources they depend on. When populations become too large, famine and disease break out. In the end, this keeps populations in check by killing off the weakest members.

Artificial Selection

These weren’t the only influences on Darwin. He was also aware that humans could breed plants and animals to have useful traits. By selecting which animals were allowed to reproduce, they could change an organism’s traits. The pigeons in Figure below are good examples. Darwin called this type of change in organisms artificial selection. He used the word ‘‘artificial’’ to distinguish it from natural selection.

Artificial selection in pigeons to form the carrier pigeon and fantail pigeonUnder Which Of The Following Conditions Do Rocks Exhibit Ductile Deformation

In the paper, Wallace explained his evolutionary theory. This served to confirm what Darwin already thought.