Lamarck Theory – Concept, Evolution, Importance and Context

We explain what Lamarck’s theory is about the evolution of living beings, their mistakes and successes. Also, who was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

Lamark theory evolution history
Lamarck was the first to propose that today’s species come from others.

What is Lamarck’s Theory?

Lamarckism or Lamarck Theory is called the scientific theory on the evolution of species, proposed by the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in his book Zoological philosophy of 1809. This is the first evolutionary theory in history, fundamental predecessor of the one later proposed by Charles Darwin in 1859.

In his work, Lamarck noted that the species of living beings were not immutableNor did they appear to have been created spontaneously, as was claimed at the time, but had probably evolved “by trial and error” from much simpler forms of life.

To explain this transformation, he proposed the existence of a mechanism (which biology today considers impossible), and that it assumed the ability of living beings to transfer acquired characteristics to their heirs by adapting to new environments.

Let us remember that at that time the existence and functioning of genes was not known as today. Nor was the Weismann Barrier principle known, which establishes that genetic information goes from genes to cells and not the other way around, that is, living beings cannot edit their genetic code at will.

And in the wake of this last principle, Lamarckism was deemed wrong and was scrapped in the early 20th century. Later, however, it was recovered and reevaluated by new scientific currents that aspire to demonstrate that its principles were correct.

Lamarck’s Theory became known as “Transformism”. It relied mainly on the verifiable existence of extinct species in the geological stratum, whose structural similarities with contemporary life forms were notorious.

Importance of Lamarck’s Theory

lamark theory evolution fossil history
Lamarck relied on fossil evidence that ancient species resemble modern ones.

Lamarck’s theories arose in an extremely hostile context, when the evolutionary precepts were just emerging as a consequence of the application of the scientific method. In that sense, were even more revolutionary than Darwin’s own, who was based on the works of Erasmus and Lamarck himself.

In fact, in Lamarck’s day the natural sciences were content with the description of living things. The appearance of his Zoological philosophy marked a turning point that resulted in the emergence of modern biology.

Biography of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

jean baptiste lamark theory evolution history biography science
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck lived in France between 1744 and 1829.

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine by Monet Chevalier de Lamarck born in Bazentin, France, on August 1, 1744, in the bosom of a noble family and descendants of the military. He had a Jesuit education and began in the military arts, participating in the Battle of Villinghausen (1761) in the Seven Years’ War.

However, his true vocation was science, which is why he trained in medicine, a discipline that he never practiced. In addition, he was part of the Garden des plantes until 1793, when it became a Museum of Natural History on his own idea.

Since then he was a professor and published various studies on flora, fauna, meteorology, hydrology. His magnum opus, the Zoological philosophy, was published in 1809.

Unfortunately, Lamarck was blind in 1819, so his last works were written through the dictation of his daughters. The last part of his life was lived in ignorance and disgrace, until his death in 1829.

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