Chronology of Evolution

Barbara W. Heavers and Judith K. Wood

345 B.P.
Plato's Theory of Forms said all life forms represent an imperfect replica of a perfect heavenly model.

G. L. Buffon's Histoire Naturelle implied or overtly assumed organic evolution.

T. R. Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population, as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society rejected the idea that in animals some of the offspring will possess the desirable qualities of the parents in a greater degree.

Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia attempted to explain organic life according to evolutionary principles.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's Philosophie Zoologique presented a comprehensive theory of transformism. Charles Darwin was born.

First volume of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology interprets earth history as a process of gradual change.

Darwin leaves England on H.M.S. Beagle, embarking on a five-year voyage of discovery.

Asa Gray published Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States and founded systematic botany in the U.S. He later became Darwin's chief advocate in the U.S.

Alfred R. Wallace proposed in a letter to C. Darwin a theory of evolution by means of natural selection based on his work in Indonesia. The two agreed to present their papers on the same occasion to the Linnean Society.

Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species; or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Thomas Henry Huxley's Man's Place in Nature stressed the similarities between humans and apes.

Lyell's Antiquity of Man popularized the belief that the human race is much older than allowed by the biblical time scale.

Ernst Haeckel's Generelle Morphologie advocated a radically materialist interpretation of progressive evolution. Gregor Mendel published the results of his investigations of the inheritance of "factors" in pea plants.

Charles Darwin published The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.

Darwin died and was buried in Westminster Abbey next to Sir Isaac Newton.

August Weismann's The Germ Plasm stressed the role of "hard" heredity and precipitated a debate on Lamarckism.

Correns, Tschermak and De Vries rediscovered Gregor Mendel's laws of heredity. Hugo De Vries went on to advocate evolution by sudden "mutations."

W. Sutton pointed out the interrelationships between cytology and Mendelism, closing the gap between cell morphology and heredity.

T. H. Morgan, the father of Drosophila genetics, discovered sex-linked inheritance.

G. H. Hardy and W. Weinberg recognized that evolutionary change is not automatic, that it occurs only when something disturbs the genetic equilibrium.

Alfred Wegener, a geophysicist proposed the theory of continental drift and an earlier supercontinent called Pangaea, which split to form the current continents.

H. J. Muller discovered that exposure to x-rays greatly increased mutation rate.

Fred Griffith proposed that some unknown "principle" had transformed the harmless R strain of Diplococcus to the virulent S strain.

Ronald Aylmer Fisher's Genetical Theory of Natural Selection published.

J. B. S. Haldane's The Causes of Evolution suggested that altruistic acts toward close relatives might favor the survival and spread of those of the altruist's genes that are shared by relatives.

T. Dobzhansky, an architect of the evolutionary synthesis, published Genetics and Origin of Species, which combined the best elements of both genetics and systematics.

Ernst Mayr, another architect of the evolutionary synthesis, published Systematics and the Origin of Species .

Julian Huxley's Evolution: The Modern Synthesis and George Gaylord Simpson's Tempo and Mode in Evolution consolidated the synthesis of Darwinism and genetics.

O. Avery, M. McCarty, and C. MacLeod determined that DNA was the substance that changed hereditary patterns in bacteria and must be the heredity material.

Barbara McClintock published her hypothesis of transposable elements to explain color variations in corn.

J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick published the structure for DNA in Nature.

H.D. Kettlewell studied the peppered moth population in England and observed that light-colored moths survived best on trees with healthy lichens and dark-colored moths on lichens darkened by industrial pollution. The result was a difference in the allelic frequencies of dark and light moths in polluted and clean woods.

J. L. Hubby and R. C. Lewontin (Genetics 54:577-594) studied enzyme genes in natural populations using the new method of electrophoresis.

Jacob, Lwoff, and Monod shared the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning the genetics of prokaryotes and the Operon theory.

J. D. Watson published The Double Helix , a history of the discovery of the structure of DNA.

F. J. Ayala in studies with Drosophila demonstrated that populations with variation adapted twice as fast as uniform populations.

Kimura's Theoretical Aspects of Population Genetics placed him in the neutralist school along with Lewontin on interpretations of polymorphism.

Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology precipitated a controversy over the use of natural selection to explain human behavior.

In Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Stephen J. Gould, a co-developer of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, says the fossil record does not support gradualism. The theory provides an explanation of the gaps existing in the fossil record.

T. Dobzhansky's Evolution provides a longer, more technical but still conventional, up-to-date treatment of the synthetic theory.

Fredrich Sanger produced the first complete sequence of a genome in a bacteriophage.

Kary Mullis invented the PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which allows DNA to be synthesized for genetic engineering, forensics, and DNA sequencing.

The human genome project was begun.

On to Time
Back to Index

Woodrow Wilson Index

Activities Exchange Index

Custom Search on the AE Site