ANT203 September 20.pdf

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18 Mar 2012

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Surprising coincidence:
Darwin's On the Origin of Species published in 1859
Alfred Wallace wrote out an almost identical theory of evolution in 1858
How did occur to them both at nearly the same time?
The foundations for the realization had been laid throughout the recent past.
Early World Views
Existence of a divine creator, whose creation was perfect and in no need of change
Fixity of Species
once created, organisms remained unchanged, having been perfectly adapted
to their environments
no concept of extinction; fossils were considered the remains of dead
organisms, or of former ones who hadn't survived the biblical flood
having all been created individually by God, species were not interrelated
the Great Chain of Being, proposed by Aristotle (Scala naturae)
based on physical similarities between organism
humans did not belong to the animal kingdom and were placed above it
a Grand Design: God's plan for the universe
stemmed from the argument from design (complexity -> divinity)
Recent creation: James Ussher dated creation as having occurred 4004 years
before his time, based on biblical genealogies
this made a conception of evolution unlikely, as dramatic change within
such a time frame is not feasible
What changed?
with travel came the discovery of plants and animals not mentioned in Genesis, as
well as the realization that the earth was not flat, which prompted speculation about
the nature of the universe
the Scientific Revolution
began in 1514 with Copernicus' challenge of Aristotelian geocentrism with
the heliocentric theory
Galileo (1600s) resurrected heliocentrism and successfully showed that
there is movement and change in the universe
the 17th century brought discoveries (physics, gravity, laws of motion,
anatomy...) and inventions (telescope, microscope...)
Figures that set the stage for Darwin and Wallace's discovery
John Ray (1627-1705)
father of natural history
an ordained priest who emphasized that the world was divinely created in its
present state; consistently supported fixity of species
formally defined "species" with the criteria of reproductive isolation
first to use genus to categorize species which shared broad similarities
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Nicholas Steno (1638-1686)
father of stratigraphy
after dissecting a shark head, identified Glossopetrae (tongue stones) as the
teeth of sharks which used to reside in the region
as the teeth had been found on mountaintops, he realized that the
area must have been underwater at some point in time
an important idea as it suggested that landscapes had been
very different in the past; that a change had occured
also suggested that a change in the chemical composition of the
shark teeth caused them to become rocks (fossilization)
the Principle of Original Horizontality
rock layers form in a horizontal position
any change in that position is due to disturbance
the Law of Superposition
prior to disturbance, rocks are arranged in a time sequence,
such that older rocks tend to be lower down, and newer
rocks tend to be higher up
Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)
father of taxonomy
invented Binomial Nomenclature, in which specimens are identified
(labelled) by their genus and species (ex. Rosa canina) rather than by long
descriptive names (ex. Rosa sylvestris inodora seu canina)
put forth in 1758's Systema Naturae, along with a new way of
classifying organisms (taxonomy)
included modern humans in his system of classification, calling
us homo sapiens for the first time in 1758, and noting physical
similarities with other primates, proposed a shared anthropomorph
following the work of John Ray, Linnaeus added the categories of order and
class to Ray's genus species
a religious man who studied natural theology, a school of thought as old as
biblical times, but which flourished in the 1700s
idea that one can better understand God's wisdom through his
creation; the order of organisms reveals the order of God's plan,
hence the importance of classification
came to realize that an entire species could be represented by one ideal
specimen, or holotype
Comte de Buffon (1707-1788)
discontented with current explanations of the natural world, he wrote the
Histoire Naturelle to describe and organize all the available knowledge on
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