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The Meaning of EvolutionThe Morphological Construction and Ideological Reconstruction of Darwin's Theory$
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Robert J. Richards

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780226712024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226712055.001.0001

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Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Species Change

Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Species Change

(p.63) 4 Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Species Change
The Meaning of Evolution
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the early discussions on embryological recapitulation and species evolution and Charles Darwin's views regarding them. From ancient time to the beginning of the nineteenth century, ideas about species change smoldered but failed to ignite the imaginations of most naturalists. Even Aristotle had acknowledged the creation of new kinds of animals through hybridization, and he elaborated the theory that spontaneous generation of insects, worms, and marine invertebrates would later give support to wobbly proposals of species evolution. Although Georges Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, had initially opposed the idea of transmutation, certain breeding experiments and theoretical considerations brought him to the view that the originally created kinds of animals had degenerated into the myriad of species because of the influence of the environment.

Keywords:   embryological recapitulation, species evolution, Charles Darwin, Aristotle, transmutation

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