The Epic History of Biology

By Anthony Serafini | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15
Lamarck and His System

Lamarck deserves a better place in biology. It is true that he surmised, mistakenly, that an animal could pass on to coming generations characteristics it acquired during its existence. Yet despite Lamarck's wellknown fantasy, he did spawn further interest in evolution when, at the turn of the century in 1801, he wrote his classic Systemé des Animaux sans Vertebres, or "System for Animals without Vertebras." This volume presented the scientific world with some of his preliminary thoughts on evolution and, equally significantly, implied a taxonomic system for invertebrates. Also, one must not forget that he coined the term "biology" as well.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was born in Picardy in northern France in 1744, the youngest of eleven children. At age sixteen, because of the loss of his father and the family's impoverished circumstances, he had to leave school to enter the military, and landed in the midst of the infamous Seven Years War. He performed heroically, despite the fact that the military was scarcely his calling. During one battle; he actually took over his regiment and held out after the enemy had

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