Man, Time, and Fossils: The Story of Evolution

By Ruth Moore | Go to book overview
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INHERITANCE, then, had been shown to be a precise, an exact a mathematical process. It could be studied and predicted, though its complexities and the almost limitless play of circumstances outran even the long reach of most mathematics.

But by studying heredity in much the way that a life-insurance company studies the rates of life and death, three scientists, J. B. S. Haldane and Ronald Aylmer Fisher in England and Sewall Wright in the United States, saw and proved that both Darwin and the mutationists were right. Complex formulas, stretching out over pages, demonstrated that natural selection was the primary shaping agent that Darwin had believed it to be. On the other hand, the analyses by these three men made clear that mutations supplied the raw material upon which selection acts. The theories were not alternatives; both were right, both were essential; they related to different levels of the evolutionary process. Out of this insight the two theories were brought together and welded into the modern theory of evolution.

Haldane started at the venturesome age of four upon the scientific career that was to make him an evolutionist. He made such an unusually early beginning because he had a distinguished scientist for a father. Dr. J. S. Haldane was a physiologist who believed fervently in experiment.

At about the time his son John Burdon Sanderson Haldane


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Man, Time, and Fossils: The Story of Evolution


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