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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Curiosity from the History of Science #17

The first modern natural philosopher to put forward a full theory of evolution, Lamarck, held that species never went extinct. The first modern natural philosopher to forward the idea that species go extinct, Cuvier, held that they did not evolve! (The Wikipedia page for Cuvier is not very accurate, by the way -- Cuvier certainly held that extinction was a fact, but did not establish it, if by that is meant "Convinced most other scientists." Nor was he a proponent of catastrophism.)

4 comments:

  1. Are you speculating that they are related beliefs? E.g., "if a species can evolve, then surely it would never go extinct."

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  2. No, I just find it curious.

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