Anthropology 1026F/G Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte De Buffon, Homo Sapiens, Binomial Nomenclature

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Anthropology: Chapter 2
- Discovery of Evolutionary principles first occurred in western Europe
Charles Darwin – first to explain the basics of evolution
developed theory of natural selection
at the same time, Alfred Russel Wallace reached the same
conclusion (independently)
- Natural selection: critical mechanism of evolutionary change: refers to genetic
change or changes in the frequencies of certain traits in populations due to
differential reproductive successes between individuals
- Fixity of species: notion that once a species is created, it can never change
This opposed to theories of biological evolution
A widespread belief during the Middle Ages
Influenced / shaped by:
hierarchical society (rigid class system) that hadn’t changed
for centuries
powerful religious system and teachings of Christianity
taken literally generally accepted that all life on earth
had been created by God as it existed in the present, and the
belief that life-forms could not change: fixity of species
plan of entire universe = viewed as God’s design
Notion of earth’s brief existence (as well as fixity of species) = huge
obstacle for development of evolutionary theory evolution requires
- Took long time for Europe to break traditional beliefs
Discovery of the New World and circumnavigation of the globe in the 15th
century overturned basic beliefs planet now not thought of as flat
Awareness of biological diversity expanded as New World = explored
1514 Copernicus challenged notion that the earth was the centre of the
universe (originally proposed by Aristotle)
Sun = centre of universe (actually discovered by Indian scholars)
Credit = given to Copernicus
Invention of telescope: could see natural phenomena
YET: people still could not comprehend life forms changing over time
1) John Ray:
- 17th century
- Minister of education at Cambridge University
- Developed concept of species based on mating ability
- By the late 1600s, biological criterion of reproduction was used to define species
- Species shared similarities with other species = genus
2) Carlos Linnaeus
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