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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck
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Scientist
    (August 1, 1744-December 18, 1829)
    Born in Bazentin, France
    Botanist and zoologist
    Wrote 'Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres' (1801), 'Philosophie Zoologique' (1809) and 'Historie Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertebres' (1822)
    Developed a theory of evolution through inheritance of acquired characteristics
    Idea frequently illustrated by giraffes' necks getting longer and stronger as they reach for leaves at the top of trees and passing the trait along to their offspring
    It turns out, evolution doesn't actually work that way.
    His theory inspired Trofim Lysenko.
    His second wife was three decades younger than him.
    He attacked the chemistry theories of Antoine Lavoisier, preferring the traditional four elements of earth, air, fire and water.
    He died so heavily in debt that his family had to apply to the French Academy for financial assistance and his body was buried in a lime pit.
    As a 17-year-old soldier, he took command of his company after all the officers were killed in battle and directed a successful defense.
    He named over 1500 new species and overhauled invertebrate taxonomy, separating the crustaceans and arachnids from the insects and the echinoderms and molluscs from the worms.
    He provided one of the first theoretical frameworks for evolution.
    Charles Darwin praised him for 'the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic world, being the result of law, not miraculous interposition.'
    He went blind late in life.
    In a dick move, zoologist Baron Cuvier, who rejected evolution, used his eulogy of Lamarck to denigrate him.

Credit: C. Fishel


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