• Donald Forsdyke

Buffon planted, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck watered, but it was Mr. Darwin who said, ‘That fruit is ripe,’ and shook it into his lap

Samuel Butler, 1887 [1]

Consideration of Samuel Butler comes late, not because his contributions to evolution were late, but because they were late in impacting Bateson's life. Even then, like most of his contemporaries and those who came after, Bateson never really understood what he was driving at. Butler's significance is twofold. First, together with Ewald Hering in the 1870s he declared heredity to be the transfer of stored information, a concept that included a distinction between genotype and phenotype although these words were not then in use. Second, he developed what was, for his time, a scientifically coherent basis for the inheritance of acquired characters, otherwise known as Lamarckism. Although the latter stamps him as a Victorian – a creature of the nineteenth century through and through – the former places his thinking at the forefront of...


Natural Selection Germ Line Linnean Society Reading Room Physiological Unit 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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  • Donald Forsdyke

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