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Jean Baptiste Lamarck, French naturalist

Jean Baptiste Lamarck, French naturalist

C028/9479

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Credit

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

Caption

Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), French naturalist, in middle age. Lamarck was a French pre-Darwinian advocate of evolution (transmutation) and an influential invertebrate taxonomist. Lamarck believed that use and disuse of organs could produce heritable changes. His role as a pioneer in recognising evolution as a process is acknowledged, but his proposed evolutionary mechanisms were widely lampooned. Recent developments in epigenetics have made some of his suggestions seem less outlandish. Lamarck also made lasting contributions to invertebrate classification, defining many groups. Controversial in his own lifetime, he made an enemy of the influential Baron Cuvier. Lamarck reputedly died bankrupt, buried in a pauper's grave.

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