5 Post Darwin Evolution Scientists

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Post Darwin Evolution Scientists

Evolution Scientists Who Came After Darwin. PicMonkey Collage


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Gregor Mendel

Gregor Johann Mendel. Erik Nordenskiöld

It may be a stretch to call Gregor Johann Mendel a "contemporary" evolution scientist, but he was definitely instrumental in helping bolster Charles Darwin's mechanism for evolution. It is hard to imagine coming up with the Theory of Evolution and Natural Selectionwithout the knowledge of Genetics, but that is exactly what Charles Darwin did. It wasn't until after Darwin's death that Gregor Mendel did his work with pea plants and became the Father of Genetics.

Darwin knew Natural Selection was the mechanism for evolution, but he did not know the mechanism behind the passing down of traits from one generation to the next. Gregor Mendel was able to figure out how traits were passed down from parent to offspring through his many monohybrid and dihybrid Genetics experiments on pea plants. This new information backed up Darwin's Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection beautifully and has been a cornerstone the modern synthesis of the Theory of Evolution.

Full Mendel Biography

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Lynn Margulis

Lynn Margulis. Javier Pedreira

Lynn Margulis, an American woman, is now a very celebrated contemporary evolution scientist. Her endosymbiotic theory not only gives evidence for evolution, it proposes the most likely mechanism for the evolution of eukaryotic cells from their prokaryotic precursors.

Margulis proposed that some of the organelles of eukaryotic cells were actually at one time their own prokaryotic cells that were engulfed by a bigger prokaryotic cell in a mutualistic relationship. There is a lot of evidence to back up this theory, including DNA evidence. The endosymbiotic theory revolutionized the way evolution scientists saw the mechanism of natural selection. While prior to the proposal of the theory most scientists thought evolution worked solely due to competition due to natural selection, Margulis showed species could evolve due to cooperation. 

Full Margulis Biography

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Ernst Mayr

Ernst Mayr. University of Konstanz (PLoS Biology)

Ernst Mayr is arguably the most influential evolutionary biologist within the last century. His work included putting together Darwin's Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection with Gregor Mendel's work in Genetics and the field ofphylogenetics. This became known as the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary Theory.

As if this were not a big enough contribution, Mayr also was the first to propose the current definition of the word species and introduced new ideas about the different types of speciation. Mayr also tried to emphasize more of a macroevolution mechanism to the change of species than the pushed by geneticists microevolution mechanism.

Full Mayr Biography

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Ernst Haeckel

Ernst Haeckel. National Institutes of Health

Ernst Haeckel was actually a colleague of Charles Darwin, so calling him a "post-Darwin" evolutionary scientist seems contradictory. However, most of his work was celebrated after Darwin's death. Haeckel was a very vocal supporter of Darwin during his lifetime and published many papers and books that said as much.

Ernst Haeckel's biggest contribution to the Theory of Evolution was his work with embryology. Now one of the main evidences for evolution, at the time, little was known about the link between species at the embryonic level of development. Haeckel studied and drew many different species' embryos and published a large volume of his drawings showing the similarities between the species as they developed into adults. This lent support to the idea that all species were related through a common ancestor somewhere in the history of life on Earth. 

Full Haeckel Biography

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William Bateson

William Bateson. American Philosophical Society

William Bateson is known as the "Founder of Genetics" for his work in getting the scientific community to recognize the work done by Gregor Mendel. In fact, during his time, Mendel's paper on heredity studies was mostly ignored. It wasn't until Bateson translated it into English that it started to gain attention. Bateson was the first to call the discipline "genetics" and began teaching the subject.

Even though Bateson was a devout follower of Mendelian Genetics, he did put out some of his own findings, like that of linked genes. He was also very anti-Darwin in his views of evolution. He did believe that species changed over time, but he did not agree with the slow accumulation of adaptations over time. Instead, he proposed the idea of punctuated equilibrium that was actually more along the lines of Georges Cuvier's Catastrophism than Charles Lyell's Uniformitarianism.

Full Bateson Biography