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1794 Erasmus Darwin Zoonomia evolution

1794 Erasmus Darwin Zoonomia evolution

C012/2568

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

Caption

First edition of Erasmus Darwin's "Zoonomia", Part 1 "The Laws of Organic Life" with section revealing his remarkably prescient 'world without end' text on evolution. Erasmus Darwin was Charles Darwin's influential poet/scientist grandfather, and wrote in this volume (visible in paragraph above title) "Would it be too bold to imagine, that in the great length of time since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, would it be to bold to imagine, that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament". He goes on to make it clear he is imagining evolution as a process largely driven by innate propensities rather than external factors. He has not presaged Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, but more simply announced his radical views against the immutability of species.

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