|MadSci Network: Science History|
Dear Chrystie: Darwin and Mendel were contemporaries. While Darwin began to formulate his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection after his trip on the ship called the Beagle in the 1830s, he did not publish his theory until 1859 in a joint paper with Alfred Wallace (who had also discovered the same understanding of evolution). Meanwhile, Gregor Mendel had begun experiments on the nature of inheritance on plants, mainly peas, in the 1850s. Darwin had formulated the theory of evolution by natural selection but without understanding the mechanism by which this occurred. Darwin believed in older concepts of 'blending' and Lamarckianism but was apparently unaware of, or did not pay attention to, the experiments in genetics of the Austrian monk. Mendel did write a letter to Darwin explaining his experiments but there is no evidence that Darwin incorporated Mendel's results into his theory. For further information on this historical subject I suggest that you look at a biological anthropology text such as Human Biology and Behavior by Weiss and Mann or some of the essays in books by Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould. Dr. Smerken
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