To be launched in summer 2013, the aim is to publish one post a week, bringing the history of how we understand biological evolution right up to date. Posts are freely illustrated, have links to other internet sites, and are regularly up-dated and improved.

The posts are written without jargon or assumption of previous scientific knowledge, and although the author has a traditional scientific background, the work is aimed at a young audience. It focuses on the social consequences of the developing ideas and shows how they have interacted with world politics and its history.

Hopefully, dialogue in the “COMMENTS” boxes will become controversial


1. Aristotle on Lesbos 346-343BC

The first descriptions of natural history were based on animals and plants living in the lagoon on an Aegean island.

2. Two Men for All Seasons 1516-1624

The idea in Genesis that life had been created by God continued to be acceptable: it was the political and social structures in Europe that needed changing. In 1516 Thomas More wrote about his plans in a novel called Utopia. Over a century later, in another utopian novel called New Atlantis, Francis Bacon also accepted the church and the new politics, and added the need for scientific experiments.

3. Thee Creative Geniuses 1519-1632

During this same time, realism was being observed by da Vinci (1519), and calculations from astronomical data was made by Copernicus (1540) and Galileo (1632).

4. Bacon Exenterates Chicken 1626

The first scientific experiment was by Francis Bacon in 1626, who tested an idea about how animal tissue breaks down and decays.

5. The Problem of the Teeth 1660-1690

Steno and Gessner found fossil sharks’ teeth high up in the mountains 1660-1690.

6. Ray of Hope 1627-1705

In East Anglia Ray recognized the diversity of nature.

7. Hooked Inside 1635-1703

Hooke looked inside tissues and at organic chemistry.

8. Thomas Burnet Plots 1641-1715

Burnet and Plot saw limits to The Flood to explain diversity.

9. The Coffee House Society 1730-1760

This came from the industrial revolution, and at Slaughter’s Coffee House in Charing Cross Road there was excitement at discoveries of nature and the links between species.

10. Explorers 1750-1780

In the1750s a new generation of explorers collected exotic species, Banks curated them at a museum in Soho.

11.The Lunar Society 1760-1790

Rousseau in Derbyshire

12. Natural History Gets Scientific 1775-1790

13. Geotheories and Revolution 1750-1790

There were many geotheories of how the earth changes, especially by Buffon in France.

14. Revolution in France; Fear in England 1794-1797

French naturalists Diderot, Cuvier and Geoffroy described detail and classified variety.

15. Lamarck Springs Back 1795-1809

He saw links between environment and evolution.

16. With God, Was Priestley Safe? 1789-1802

In England Priestley stimulated ideas of how biology works.

17. Making Maps 1798-1840

In space and time, Humboldt and Bougainville set sail and explored

18. The English Establishment 1820-1824

19. The Great Paris Debate 1830

The famous debate about whether evolution was planned or random.

20. More English Traditionalists 1820-1845

Buckland and Mantell argued about the creation of fossil invertebrates; Lyell considered geology, the deluge and time.

21. Charles Darwin 1830-1860

his single evolutionary tree – many questions were not answered.

 22. Wallace Returned 1862-1870

He returned from tropical forests to meet institutional science

23. Just Visiting 1862

TH Huxley, Hooker et al’ Bates, Spencer. Owen.

24. Wallace Got Up To Date 1862

social class, religion, race

25 The Start of Objective Biology 1860-1874

Galton’s Hereditary Genius 1869, Thomson and geological time

26. The Evolution of Humans 1869-1871

Darwin’s Descent of Man 1871

27. The Dissolving Spectre of Darwinism 1872-1887

Butler and Eimer promote Lamarckism; Weismann’s poor defence

28. Darwin’s Funeral and Degeneration 1882-1890

Ray Lankester and Haeckel continued with studies of marine biology and degeneration

29 Catastrophe and Mutation 1883-1895

Francis Galton

30 Statistics Against Biometry 1895-1906

Pearson in London fought Bateson in Cambridge

31. Uncertainty About Mendel 1904-1907

Trying to understand the patterns that emerged. Morgan, Muller

32. Early Eugenics 1903-1911

Galton and Pearson open possibilities

33. Tansley and Ecology 1898-1911

ecosystems in the environment.

34. Five Men Go to War 1914-1918

Haldane and Fisher, Tansley and Smuts, Julian Huxley in Texas

35. Ecology in South Africa 1924-1930

Jan Smuts surveyed nature

36. Evolutionary Advances in the United States 1920-1930

37. Evolution in Soviet Russia 1928-1940

38. Eugenics Gets Serious 1925-1936

39. HG Wells’ The Science of Life 1919-1929

40 Numbers and the New Genetics

41. Maps, Moths and Cricket 1923-1937

42. Pessimism Before the Synthesis 1930-1939

43. The New Synthesis 1940-1942

44. Discovery of DNA Structure 1945-1953

45. First Concerns for the Planet Earth 1945

Aldous Huxley Warned on the Environment

illustrations acknowledged from internet source

copyright Michael Boulter 2013, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s