Jean Baptiste
        de Lamarck

Jean Lamarck (1744 - 1829)

In full, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, was an 18th century French evolutionist, best known for his "Zoological Philosophy" (1809), in which he advanced the first modern theory of evolution, in which species were transformed over time into other species.

Lamarck's theory was not well received, for three reasons. He was a member of the French aristocracy, but sided with the revolutionists, earning him the enmity and distrust of conservatives on the Continent and especially in England. He included in his theory a concept of inheritance of acquired characteristics, famously a very brief passage that Giraffes had acquired their long necks by stretching to reach higher leaves, and that the changes so obtained were passed on to their offspring. In English editions, the "besoin" of the Giraffe was inaccurately translated as "need" rather than "want", which implied a teleological (goal-oriented) motivated. Finally, the book was written without support of empirical evidence, unlike Darwin's Origin fifty years later.

Text material © 2022 by Steven M. Carr