Is timing everything?

If timing really is everything, then Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) got it badly wrong. His 1809 Philosophie Zoologique pre-dates Darwin’s Origin of Species by 50 years (and influenced Darwin immensely), yet Lamarck is obscure by comparison.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Lamarck’s pre-theory of evolution did, admittedly, have a few flaws. He postulated that species change into new species over time, but then postulated that acquired characteristics can be inherited.

So was he just ahead of his time or was Darwin’s theory just better? I would never have heard of Lamarck had it not been for a guidebook note and this street in Montmartre named after him. Maybe timing really is everything.

Not for M. Lamarck the 200th anniversary celebrations accorded to Darwin

Words and Pictures © Louise Heal 2009

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