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Show Me the BoneReconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America$
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Gowan Dawson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226332734

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226332871.001.0001

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Evolutionary Modifications

Evolutionary Modifications

(p.303) 9 Evolutionary Modifications
Show Me the Bone

Gowan Dawson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores how, in the wake of Darwin’s Origin of Species and the fossil remains of so-called “missing links” like the Archaeopteryx that soon after came to light, Cuvierian correlation faced a profound crisis. Rather than simply being eclipsed by evolution, however, it was often modified and adapted to the new scientific priorities of the post-Origin era. Darwin himself appropriated key elements of Cuvier’s law in his own law of correlated variability, denuding the original of its erstwhile anti-evolutionary potential. Owen too publicly disputed Cuvier’s views on the fixity of species, explaining functional adaptations as the result of a preordained law of evolution. Owen nevertheless still endeavoured to impose the Cuvier’s paleontological methods on obdurate colonial naturalists in Australia.

Keywords:   evolution, Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, missing link, archaeopteryx, correlated variability, Richard Owen, preordained evolution, Australia, colonial science

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