One of the predecessors of Charles
Darwin that impacted his work was Charles Lyell. Lyell was a geologist who had
the belief that the world was older than we thought, millions of years old to
be in fact. He also wrote the book that Darwin took with him on his trip on the
Beagle, Principles of Geology. This
helped Darwin fill in the missing gaps that he had when building a timeline for
his theory of evolution. He was considered to be a paleontologist due to his
interest in geological changes such as earthquakes, and he did, in fact,
explain why earthquakes happen with his theory of volcanic building underneath
the earth’s surface. He was also responsible for the nomenclature of the time periods,
or eras such as the Mesozoic, that we still use today. In Lyell’s book, he
explains that he believes that the word did not change vastly and immediately,
but continuously and gradually over time, and still does today. This goes hand
in hand with Darwin’s theory, but greatly differs from the theory of Darwin’s
other predecessor, Georges Cuvier.

Another
predecessor of Charles Darwin was Georges Cuvier. Cuvier was a French scientist
who totally dismissed Jean Lamarck’s theory of evolution. He believed that
species were made perfect by God and they did not change over time. Georges
studied anatomy, and with his familiarity with bones and fossils, he deemed
evolution impossible due to the fact that the fossils that were found are still
the same as living species’ bones today. Cuvier also was the first to introduce
the term extinction. Before he
introduced the idea of extinction, most people of his time thought that these
“extinct” species were just unable to be found, or in a sense “hiding”. Georges
disproved this by comparing the fossils of mammoths with those of elephants. He
deemed that an animal the size of a mammoth could not just be hiding somewhere,
but would rather have died off during a mass catastrophic event. His theory
went along with the stories of the Bible,
of the huge flood that wiped out a mass number of species. Charles Darwin,
on the other hand, thought that species gradually changed and those that did
not have the means to survive died off, while the stronger species, more
adapted to their environment, survived.

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