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Darwin and his Influencers Study Guide

The theory of evolution by Charles Darwin was a result of influences from various famous personalities who studied evolution and influenced the final theory. Let's explore what ideas influenced Darwin?

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Introduction:

Aristotle is known as the father of biology. However, many biologists contributed a lot to different parts of biology. In this topic, we will talk about one of the most famous personalities in the field of modern biology or the father of modern biology, Charles Darwin.

His theories are the foundation of the other theories based on evolution in today's world. Here, we will discuss the personalities who influenced Charles Darwin to work on this theory and helped him to conclude.

Who was Charles Darwin?

Charles Darwin Source

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) was not only a biologist, but he was also a naturalist and geologist. He is famous for his theory of the evolution of living organisms based on natural selection. His theory is considered as the basic concept of evolution.

He has written everything about evolution in his book "Origin of Species." He wrote this book after coming from a trip on HMS Beagle. He travelled to different parts and met different people to understand living beings on that trip.

His theory of evolution says that evolution is a result of natural selection. Living beings possess different characteristics to survive the environment they live in. These characteristics help them grow and evolve into new species.

Darwin was, of course, a genius person, yet his life and main theory of evolution were influenced by many people engaged in different fields. Let's talk about those influences on Darwin, we know.

Darwin's Influencers

These personalities are not famous, but they play a significant role in shaping the theory of evolution through their influences on Darwin.

1. Erasmus Darwin

Erasmus Darwin Source

It is common to find out that people from their bloodline influence most famous people. Erasmus Darwin was the grandfather of Charles Darwin, and he influenced Darwin from a very young age.

Erasmus also did significant research on the evolution of various species, and he discussed it with his little grandson Darwin. Unlike other scientists, he portrayed his ideas in the form of poetry rather than writing them down as a book. This was a major reason his contemporaries did not criticize his ideas.

Later on, he published a book in which he talked about how speciation results from adaptation. We can now see a clear impact of his ideas in his grandson's work.

2. Thomas Malthus

Thomas Malthus Source

Thomas Malthus was a very famous economist who significantly inspired Darwin to write his theory of evolution. As an economist, he understood the population and its behavior inside an economy.

He was an economist, yet what concept developed by Malthus influenced Darwin? Malthus stated that the population is growing, leading to starvation, and only those who will live will survive. This concept influenced him, and he introduced a new concept of 'survival of the fittest' after considering Malthus's theory of population behaviour.

3. Jean Lamarck

Jean Lamarck Source

Jean Baptiste Lamarck was a zoologist and biologist. He talked about the vestigial structures in organisms. That states that life started from a very simple form, and organisms developed into new forms over a while. He also stated that adaptations arise spontaneously, and if those adaptations do not come into use, they will vanish.

Let's understand how did Lamarck influence Darwin. His idea that humans had a very simple form and had developed into a complex form over a large period due to spontaneous adaptations influenced Darwin.

4. Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace Source

Alfred Russel Wallace was a person who received less recognition, yet he contributed a lot to the theory of evolution. He didn't influence Charles Darwin, but he worked with him.

He was the first person to come up with the idea of natural selection; however, as he and Charles Darwin were working together, they shared their theories and presented evolution theory.

5. Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell Source

Charles Lyell was one of the most influential people in geology. Charles Lyell and Darwin met each other with the help of a common friend who was captain of the HMS Beagle ship.

Let's discuss how did geologist Lyell influence, Darwin. His theory of geology stated that Earth has developed over a huge period, resulting from slow changes that happened on earth.

He also gave theory over the natural selection that organisms adapt as per the environment they live in to work in the environment. His theory of uniformitarianism influenced Darwin a lot which says that the mechanism of growing adaptations never changes, and it is the same as before.

6. James Hutton

James Hutton Source

James Hutton is another biologist on the list of Darwin's influences. It is known that many of the ideas of Lyell are taken from Hutton's ideas. James Hutton was the first person to state that the processes that existed before on earth had never changed. Earth has changed, but the mechanism hasn't.

Hutton and Lyell had almost the same ideas; let's understand the question of how did Hutton and Lyell influence Darwin?

Darwin connected their theory of mechanisms which says that the mechanism of changing earth never gets replaced with natural selection. He said that the mechanism is responsible for survival and natural selection.

Conclusion:

  • Many people influenced Charles Darwin's theory of evolution; each one of them helped him in connecting the dots.
  • Aristotle gave him the idea of classification.
  • Malthus, an economist, introduced him to 'survival of the fittest' through his behavioral theory of population.
  • Famous geologists Lyell and Hutton inspired him to present the base evolution theory, i.e., natural selection.

FAQs:

1. Who influenced Darwin's theory?

Darwin's famous theory of evolution was influenced by other famous and non-famous personalities working in different occupations, including Thomas Malthus, Charles Lyell, and Jean Lamarck.

2. Who assisted Darwin with his work?

Alfred Russel Wallace was the scientist who assisted Darwin the most with his theory of natural selection.

3. How did Thomas Malthus influence Darwin?

Thomas Malthus influenced Darwin to refine Natural selection by establishing a valid basis for significant competition among organisms that belong to the same species.

4. How did Aristotle influence Darwin?

Aristotle strongly influenced the works of Darwin. He is regarded as the first person to introduce the classification of animals based on their behaviours, similarities, and dissimilarities.

5. What did scientists believe before Darwin?

Scientists before Darwin believed that the species are not interlinked. They are not related to each other in any way, and they remain unchanged forever.

6. Who is the father of zoology?

Aristotle is known as the father of zoology.

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Sources:

  1. Influences on Darwin. https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-biology-flexbook-2.0/section/5.13/primary/lesson/influences-on-darwin-bio/ Accessed 13 Dec, 2021.
  2. 8 People Who Influenced and Inspired Charles Darwin. https://www.thoughtco.com/people-who-influenced-charles-darwin-1224651 Accessed 13 Dec, 2021.
  3. Influences of Darwin. https://youtu.be/sFyclyK9_oQ Accessed 13 Dec, 2021.