PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Portrait with later colour, Erasmus Darwin, 'author of the loves of the plants' Published 1799-1807 (1810) by Dr Thornton, London for "New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnaeus and the Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature". Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) grandfather of Charles, prefigured evolutionary thought. In 'Zoonomia' 1794 Erasmus wrote "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 warmblooded 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. Darwin saw him as an important free thinker but was irked by the suggestion he had pre-formulated a theory of evolution.
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