Darwin sabia tudo sobre evolução mesmo quando não sabia...

quarta-feira, junho 24, 2009

Charles Darwin’s Beagle Voyage, Fossil Vertebrate Succession, and “The Gradual Birth & Death of Species”

Journal of the History of Biology

Paul D. Brinkman1 Contact Information
(1) North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601-1029, USA

Published online: 16 June 2009

Abstract The prevailing view among historians of science holds that Charles Darwin became a convinced transmutationist only in the early spring of 1837, after his Beagle collections had been examined by expert British naturalists. With respect to the fossil vertebrate evidence, some historians believe that Darwin was incapable of seeing or understanding the transmutationist implications of his specimens without the help of Richard Owen. There is ample evidence, however, that he clearly recognized the similarities between several of the fossil vertebrates he collected and some of the extant fauna of South America before he returned to Britain. These comparisons, recorded in his correspondence, his diary and his notebooks during the voyage, were instances of a phenomenon that he later called the “law of the succession of types.” Moreover, on the Beagle, he was following a geological research agenda outlined in the second volume of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, which implies that paleontological data alone could provide an insight into the laws which govern the appearance of new species. Since Darwin claims in On the Origin of Species that fossil vertebrate succession was one of the key lines of evidence that led him to question the fixity of species, it seems certain that he was seriously contemplating transmutation during the Beagle voyage. If so, historians of science need to reconsider both the role of Britain’s expert naturalists and the importance of the fossil vertebrate evidence in the development of Darwin’s ideas on transmutation.

Keywords Darwin - transmutation - fossil vertebrate succession - Beagle - agouti - Megatherium - armadillo - nineteenth century

Contact Information Paul D. Brinkman
Email: Paul.Brinkman@ncdenr.gov


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