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Mummified Ibis & Cuviers evolution

Mummified Ibis & Cuviers evolution

C008/8061

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50.0 MB (2.9 MB compressed)

5023 x 3479 pixels

42.4 x 29.5 cm ⏐ 16.7 x 11.6 in (300dpi)

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Mummified Ibis Head from Egypt (Ptolemaic period 305-30 B.C.) together with English translations of Cuvier's "Revolutions of the Surface of the Globe" and one of his Ibis plates reproduced after "Ossamens Fossiles" 1812. Cuvier opposed the idea of Transmutation (evolution). Following Napoleon's Egypt campaign in 1798-1801 a large number of Ibis mummies came back to Paris. Lacepede, assisted by rivals Cuvier and Lamarck, saw it as a way to test if animals had changed in 3000 years. Looking at the mummies in comparison with modern Numenius ibix (the Sacred Ibis, now Threskiornis aethiopicus), he concluded "these animals are perfectly similar to those of today". Based on these observations Lamarck's hypothesis of transmutation was rejected by Cuvier, and consequently the scientific establishment. We now know the period of time involved was much too short for this test.

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