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– Darwin “Evolved” His Theory of Evolution from Dr.Hutton 2003-10-15

Posted by clype in Intolerance, Science, Scotland.

New evidence has come to light suggesting a Scottish geologist came up with the theory of natural selection long before Charles Darwin.

Dr.James Hutton is said to have developed an almost identical explanation for evolution 65 years before “The Origin of the Species” was published in 1859.

Prof.Paul Pearson, from the University of Cardiff, uncovered a whole chapter on selection theory in a rare 1794 publication by Dr.Hutton.

The find supplements a similar but briefer account in an unpublished manuscript by the geologist entitled “Elements of Agriculture”, which dates from about the same time.

Prof.Pearson located the new work, which runs to three volumes and more than 2 000 pages, in the National Library of Scotland.

Writing in the journal Nature, he explained how Dr.Hutton’s experiments in animal and plant breeding led him to observe new traits arising with every generation.

Dr.Hutton argued that this “seminal variation” was passed on to offspring by individuals who adapted and survived. He wrote that “those which depart most from the best-adapted constitution will be most liable to perish”. Species would be continually adapting to local conditions, and meeting the demands of a changing environment.

‘Although he never used the term, Hutton clearly articulated the principle of evolution by natural selection’, said Prof.Pearson.

Darwin always maintained that he came to his selection principle independently of two earlier authors, Patrick Matthew (1831) and William Wells (1818).

Prof.Pearson said: ‘It may be more than coincidence that Wells, Matthew and Darwin were all educated in Hutton’s home town of Edinburgh, a place famous for its scientific clubs and societies.

‘There is no question of Darwin knowingly stealing Hutton’s idea. But it is possible that an old half-forgotten concept from his student days later resurfaced, as he struggled to explain his many observations on species and varieties made voyaging around the world in HMS Beagle.

Darwin rightly gets the credit for applying the principle to the transformation of species and assembling the evidence that convinced the scientific world’.


  • The Discovery of Evolution by Natural Selection By Professor Paul Pearson of Cardiff University Paul Pearson recently created quite a stir in Shrewsbury by revealing that the 18th century geologist, James Hutton, had a theory of natural selection sixty years before Darwin’s. Professor Pearson reveals the remarkable parallel interest of these two great scientists from different centuries, and discusses why they came to such opposite conclusions. £4, Concessions: £2.50

See Also:




1. Who Believes in Evolution? « Clipped News - 2006-10-29

[…] – Darwin “Evolved” His Theory of Evolution from Dr.Hutton 2003-10-15 […]

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