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1812 Egyptian Ibis & Cuviers evolution

1812 Egyptian Ibis & Cuviers evolution

C008/8062

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100.0 MB (5.4 MB compressed)

8361 x 4181 pixels

70.9 x 35.3 cm ⏐ 27.9 x 13.9 in (300dpi)

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Credit

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

Caption

Composite of three plates (by Balzac) from Cuvier's "Ossamens Fossiles" 1812. Left - a mummy skeleton from Thebes, middle - the modern sacred ibis, right - an Egyptian temple figure and mummified ibis head. 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 the 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 too short.

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