– Darwin “Evolved” His Theory of Evolution from Dr.Hutton 2003-10-15Posted by clype in Intolerance, Science, Scotland.
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The find supplements a similar but briefer account in an unpublished manuscript by the geologist entitled “Elements of Agriculture”, which dates from about the same time.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’.
- “Did Darwin Evolve his Theory” BBC
- “Setting the Evolutionary Theory Straight” Cardiff University
- “Setting the Evolutionary Record Straight” American Scientist
- “Scot ‘beat Darwin by 65 years'” Guardian
- Making the News
- Shrewsbury Music Hall, The Charles Darwin Memorial Lecture
- 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
- Professor Paul Pearson
Cardiff School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences
Tel: 029 2087 4579 Email: PearsonP@cardiff.ac.uk
- –The Origins of Successful Human Beings 2003-02-21
- “Evolutionary Concepts in the Nineteenth Century: Natural Selection and Patrick Matthew” by W.J. Dempster (Amazon)
- “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin (Amazon)
- http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S311.htm (on-line)