Charles Lyell, British geologist

Charles Lyell, British geologist

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Credit: GEORGE BERNARD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Charles Lyell (1797-1875), British geologist. Lyell at first embarked on a legal career, but his interests in geology led to his appointment as secretary of the Geological Society in 1823. In 1830-33 he published his three-volume masterpiece Principles of Geology. In it, he provided proof to support the principle of Uniformitarianism stated by James Hutton. This principle stated that rocks and geological formations are the result of ordinary slow processes such as erosion and not a past catastrophe. A friend of Darwin, Lyell wrote The Antiquity of Man (1863), but himself denied that evolution could be applied to humans. He was knighted in 1848.

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