Talk:Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject France (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject France, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of France on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject History of Science (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is part of the History of Science WikiProject, an attempt to improve and organize the history of science content on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, you can edit the article attached to this page, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and/or contribute to the discussion. You can also help with the History of Science Collaboration of the Month.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Evolutionary biology (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is part of WikiProject Evolutionary biology, an attempt at building a useful set of articles on evolutionary biology and its associated subfields such as population genetics, quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, phylogenetics, evolutionary developmental biology. It is distinct from the WikiProject Tree of Life in that it attempts to cover patterns, process and theory rather than systematics and taxonomy). If you would like to participate, there are some suggestions on this page (see also Wikipedia:Contributing FAQ for more information) or visit WikiProject Evolutionary biology
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Gastropods (Rated B-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Gastropods, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of gastropods on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taxonomy: For all marine species, Project Gastropods uses the taxonomy in the online database WoRMS. When starting a new article, do not use sources of taxonomic information that predate the 2005 revision for all gastropod groups. If you need help with any aspect of an article, please leave a note at the Project talk page.
WikiProject Biography / Science and Academia (Rated B-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Biography, a collaborative effort to create, develop and organize Wikipedia's articles about people. All interested editors are invited to join the project and contribute to the discussion. For instructions on how to use this banner, please refer to the documentation.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the science and academia work group (marked as High-importance).
WikiProject Philosophy (Rated B-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Philosophy, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of content related to philosophy on Wikipedia. If you would like to support the project, please visit the project page, where you can get more details on how you can help, and where you can join the general discussion about philosophy content on Wikipedia.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
Former featured article candidate Jean-Baptiste Lamarck is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
January 19, 2004 Refreshing brilliant prose Not kept

A note[edit]

This article duplicates Lamarck, but there is much more information there. I think we may suppress this one. --FvdP 23:14 Nov 28, 2002 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

I think this page should be moved to his full name and title, to be of the same form as Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. Comments? (There are a whole bunch of redirects to tidy up as well, but I wasn't going to start those before asking.) Noisy | Talk 12:55, Dec 19, 2004 (UTC)

Absolutely; Lamark was NOT his family name, but a title. Many Wiki names have been shortened from much-used forms (Thomas Henry Huxley) to seldom-used forms which are shorter (Thomas Huxley). But in cases like Lamark it is dreadfully gauche to conflate family names with titles. Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck is accurate, but rather long. I think I'd go for simple Lamark folowed as now by the full name as a sub-title. Macdonald-ross 20:13, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

horrible horrible article[edit]

Odd that this article should be about Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, when most of is an unstructured rambling mess mostly duplicating Lamarckism. — Dunc| 16:56, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

And while we're at it, how does it follow from his family's poverty that he was a Chevalier? Nothing to do with it! Macdonald-ross 11:24, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Extraordinary inaccuracies and misconceptions[edit]

It is not those who misunderstand the basic concept of "selection" that reject Lamarck. It is almost without exception that those who defend Lamarck have utterly no concept of selection or fitness. While I agree with the summary of selection given, to say that those who don't understand that definition reject Lamarkianism is the most absurd strawman I have read in quite some time. Also, the fact that memetics is Lamarkian is a case against memetics as a true parallel to evolutionary biology, not a point for Lamarkianism. Evopsycho 20:27, 1 December 2006 (UTC)


"...the first species to be described was the unicellular Porphyridium purpureum (Byssus purpurea Lamark, 1778. Bysus then included colonial as well as filamentous organisma...(Brodie, J.A. and Irvine, L.M. 2003. Seaweeds of the Brtitish Isles. Vol. 1 Rhodophyta part 3B Bangiophycidae. Natural History Museum , London. ISBN 1 898298 87 4 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Osborne (talkcontribs) 12:36, 31 January 2007 (UTC). Osborne 12:37, 31 January 2007 (UTC)!

Urban Myths[edit]

This page is absolutely full of scientific "urban myths" about Lamarck;

  • He did not come up with acquired inheritance; it was the standard folk knowledge of his era (and, i might add, Darwin did in fact believe in acquired inheritance, despite the claims of this article).
  • His actual theory of evolution is explained in detail in Gould's "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory", which draws solely upon primary documents - i suggest we set about correcting the myths. A century of hopelessly innaccurate textbook description is long enough!
  • The reference to Weismann's mouse experiments are also a potential urban myth - it needs to be doulbe-checked.

Dissembly 01:49, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

I have attempted to rectify all these problems. There is now a section specifically for his evolutionary theory. - Dissembly 04:32, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
I just started working on the article a few days ago, and I hadn't got to his evolutionary theory yet. I've detailed his early life and his publications in the early 1800s. Just a request, could you find the exact page in Gould's book that you're referencing to? Page 170 to 197 contains a lot of details, and I think it would be easier for readers if the exact page number(s) were provided. Nishkid64 (talk) 16:56, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Pages 170-197 is a whole study on Lamarck; i don't think it would make much sense to cite a single page, because the information on Lamarck is spread out over all of those pages. What specific bit of information do you need a reference for? Dissembly (talk) 00:36, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
If you want some source info about Darwin's belief in acquired inheritance, see Talk:Vestigiality. According to Leakey, Darwin called it "use-and-disuse heredity" and tried to account for it by his pangenesis theory in his 1868 book Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication. .. dave souza, talk 22:12, 11 July 2007 (UTC)


We have here the great founder of invertebrate biology. So while the attention to his pioneering on evolution is merited, so is at least a little more to the great anatomical and systematic work he did separating out invertebrate groups from the mess of "worms" that Linnaeus had. (In addition, the discussion of the extent to which he was/wasn't the person responsible for promoting inheritance of acquired characters is handled well in the first, shorter telling of his life at the beginning, but not so well in the longer version later). Felsenst 06:43, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

link, please!![edit]

I cannot access this page from its title Jean-Baptiste Lamark -- what's going on?? Macdonald-ross (talk) 09:34, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

You misspelled his name; it's LamarCk. Dissembly (talk) 00:34, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Awkwardness in opening paragraph.[edit]

The flow of this paragraph is awkward and contains seemingly irrelevant information.

"At his post in Monaco, Lamarck became interested in natural history and resolved to study medicine [2] He retired from the army after being injured in 1766, and he returned to his medicine studies.Lamarck showed a particular interest for botany, and he studied the subject under Bernard de Jussieu for nearly ten years. He was one of the main contributors to the Cell Theory."

Is it necessary to say he was in Monaco? Was there something about the flora or fauna there that led to subsequent discoveries?

He resolved to study medicine only to become a botanist. Do we need to know that he studied medicine? Did he study medicine? Either we explain this further here or omit it.

Choosing to omit the detail about medicine, how about the following rewrite?

"While in the army, he found time to explore natural history, and resolved to pursue the subject upon his discharge. In 1766 an injury required that he retire from the army. Lamarck returned to school. He spent the next 10 years under the tutelage of Bernard de Jussieu during which time he demonstrated a particular affinity for botany, and eventually became one of the main contributors to the Cell Theory. " --General Ludd (talk) 03:40, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

In the heading "Lamarckian Evolution" on this page, the statement:

Although he was not the first thinker to advocate organic evolution, he was the first to develop a truly coherent evolutionary theory[citation needed].

requires a citation. I'm a newbie and don't want to screw anything up, so I'm hoping someone else will edit the page for me...

Actually the citation for that statement had already been provided earlier in the article, after a similar statement. I have duplicated the citation. Dissembly (talk) 00:31, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

In the third edition of On the Origin of Species (Darwin, C. R. 1861. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 3d edition.), in the preface section "An historical sketch of the recent progress of opinion on The Origin of Species,"on p. xiii, Darwin writes:

The great majority of naturalists believe that species are immutable productions, and have been separately created. This view has been ably maintained by many authors. Some few naturalists, on the other hand, believe that species undergo modification, and that the existing forms of life have descended by true generation from pre-existing forms. … Lamarck was the first man whose conclusions on this subject excited much attention. This justly-celebrated naturalist first published his views in 1801, and he much enlarged them in 1809 in his 'Philosophie Zoologique,' and subsequently, in 1815, in his Introduction to his 'Hist, Nat. des Animaux sans Vertèbres.' In these works he upholds the doctrine that all species, including man, are descended from other species.

While this isn't exactly a citation for the actual page's statement that Lamarck was the first to "develop a truly coherent evolutionary theory" (of which statement I have no particular knowledge), it is a citation for the accurate statement that Lamarck was the first to engender widespread discussion on the topic, leading, eventually, to the Big Biology Debate (or, as Samuel Butler called it, "The Deadlock in Darwinism") over the veracity of Lamarckian or Darwinian evolution. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hou68 (talkcontribs) 21:00, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

The entire article needs many more citations. There appears to be opinion and original research as well.LéVeillé 04:51, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

Darwin did not reject Lamarckian use/disuse inheritance. Rather he adopted it as an important evolutionary selector.[edit]

Oddly, the article doesn't even mention this very common name for Lamarck's theory in the opening paragraphs (so I fixed it). Instead, the article mentions a genetic theory (which Lamarck couldn't possibly have held) called "soft inheritance" (which may or may not become an accepted term in science but certainly was not a term Lamarck could have used - nor is use/disuse theory the same thing as soft inheritance. If it were, scientists today would go back to the original term, as they are very prone to acknowledging early work if it is the same as later work. Soft inheritance /= use-disuse. Also, there is no citation, but I do have a reference for my change and I'll insert it. When I get a chance I'll find the actual page number. May be able to do that soon. This article is indeed a mess.LéVeillé 17:02, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

WP:Reliable sources[edit]

All contributors work under guidelines. This is basic to the whole of WP:

1. Where there is any difference of opinion, reliable sources take precedence over the opinions of contributors, no matter how strongly they feel, and how eminent they may happen to be.
2. The most reliable references are those in refereed high-impact journals, and in books from major publishers which have attained status by reviews &c.
3. Web-sites are by their very nature less reliable since they are almost never refereed and tend to be the opinions of a single person and ephemeral in nature. However, they have higher status than the unsupported opinions of a contributor.
4. It follows from all this that passages clearly supported by a reliable reference should not be removed from the article without consensus, and in particular, should not be replaced by personal opinion. If more than one view is taken in the sources, then they should be represented in the article.
5. This is the place to voice ideas and criticisms of an article, not in the article itself. However, it is pointless to rail against text which is supported by reliable references. Macdonald-ross (talk) 13:21, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't need saying, but of course Macdonald-ross is correct. Johnuniq (talk) 00:38, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

The following question occurred lately[edit]

Is the Family of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (Chevalier de la Marck) somehow connected to the House of Marck/ de la Marck? This German noble Family started its rally to the Power in Westfalia and was orientated to Burgundy. Familiy members are to find in higher Ranks of France, Burgundy and the HRE during the 16th century and earlier. (Dukes of Nevers/ Princes of Sedan etc.) The Dukes of Cleves are representing the main Line of the House de la Marck. Infortmations about the Familiy of Jean-Baptistes Father (also Chevalier de la Marck) and his ancestry would be very welcome. --Gabriel-Royce (talk) 01:14, 1 December 2009 (UTC)


A contributor has insisted upon re-introducing this topic as if it were a justification of Lamarkian inheritance. The article referred to does say:

"Epigenetic mechanisms leave DNA sequence unaltered but can affect DNA by preventing the expression of genes. "
"These studies do not demonstrate inheritance between generations"
"To get to the issue of the more extreme variations of soft inheritance, it has to be determined whether the environment can induce an epigenetic change in an organism that can be inherited in subsequent generations. Certainly, nobody has shown that an epigenetically induced beneficial or adaptive change has been inherited."

The sentence under discussion says

"However, in the field of Epigenetics, there is growing evidence that soft inheritance play a part in changing of some organisms DNA and maybe transmitted to later generations."

Which is just what the reference does not say. That is why I reverted the change. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:22, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

I corrected that wording before you posted, its late and I had to run threw a few different sentences and kept hitting the save instead of the preview: it might help to add some text that these changes are not inherited, but I think that is implied when it says that the DNA is not changed. Hardyplants (talk) 07:27, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
While writing this, text changed to acknowledge that only expression of genes may be altered. I still think it may go too far, because adaptive change was what L. talked about, but have not reverted it. Macdonald-ross (talk) 07:33, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
When Lamarck proposed his ideas of adaptive change, people did not know about inheritance of DNA or a fixed genotype. This is a type of adaptive change but it so far does not seem to be a heritable one in any organisms studied so far. Hardyplants (talk)
I'm happy to leave the text as it is now. I should have been more generous about your re-edit: it was well done, especially as you did it before my little rant. Macdonald-ross (talk) 11:03, 15 August 2010 (UTC)
For what it is worth I agree the current wording is not bad. However, there are reliable sources that suggest that epigenetic inheritance can play a role in adaptation to the environment, and that in some cases this might possibly effect evolution in a Lamarckian fashion. Here are a few I found when discussing this topic in history of evolutionary thought: [1], [2], [3]]. This is all still quite preliminary of course, but it might be Ok to add some wording a long the lines: "Some biologists have gone as far as suggesting that such soft epigenetic inheritance might contribute to adapting phenotypes to environmental conditions in a way reminiscent of Lamarckian evolution." I think sources could be found that would support that. Rusty Cashman (talk) 03:34, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
As an encyclopedia, we should stay out of unresolved current controversies. There is not a single case of an epigenetic effect having any evolutionary consequences: it is all supposition. As for revivifying Lamark, how many times has that been promised and failed? If a significant epigenetic change is demonstrated which is continually heritable, that would be interesting. We could rethink the issue then. Macdonald-ross (talk) 18:08, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I can't quite swallow "As an encyclopedia, we should stay out of unresolved current controversies", which is against the spirit of wikipedia and the letter of WP:WEIGHT, which encourages articles to cover unresolved controversies by summerizing minority viewpoints in the field (without giving the impression they are mainstream or consensus viewpoints). I think that at this point the idea that epigenetic effects may be influencing evolution easily meets the threshold of being a minority rather than a fringe view. However, you may be right that this article is not the right place to go into it. To date most of the speculation about epigenetic mechanisms affecting evolution have focused on environmental stress selectively increasing mutation rates for certain genes, and the idea that a genome may code for multiple versions of the phenotype depending on environementally triggered gene expression with the state of the switches sometimes reflecting the enviromental conditions encountered by parents or grand parents rather than just the environment of the developing organism. Neither of these effects really matches the ideas of Lamarck (and his contemporaries) or those of the neo-Lamarkians, which were much more about use and disuse of organs. Rusty Cashman (talk) 02:42, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Neither epigenetics or soft inheritance belongs in this article.LéVeillé 04:52, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

I second this. Epigenetics has repeatedly been described as Lamarckian, but there is no basis for this at all. No serious work has suggested that environmental effects that bring about epigenetic changes tend to produce changes that are adaptive more often than they produce maladaptive changes. And no role for use or disuse of organs has been suggested by research on epigenetics. So saying that epigenetic changes are a Lamarckian mechanism is simply wrong. (Happy 268th Birthday to Lamarck, though). Felsenst (talk) 12:26, 1 August 2012 (UTC)


I just looked on IPNI today (30 mar 2012) and if you search for all names that he is an author of (excluding basionyms) you get 4095 from IK and 565 from the GCI. I think that some of these would not be accurate to use because they are either names where he is before the "ex" or they are for the species epithet and not the infraspecific epithet, but his estimated number of published plant names can be increased from 58.

On I counted (30 Mar 2012) 63 moss names that Lam. is part of (not before the "ex" or in the basionym parentheses). This might be interesting to add.

I cannot determine an easy way through IndexFungorum to count the number of fungal names he published. There also does not seem to be a simple way on Index Hepaticarum to determine the number of hepatic names he may have published — Preceding unsigned comment added by HerbTricoter (talkcontribs) 19:42, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Geographical note[edit]

'After his father died in 1760, Lamarck bought himself a horse, and rode across the country to join the French army, which was in Germany at the time.' As this is the 1700s, shouldn't Germany be Prussia? (talk) 15:46, 6 December 2014 (UTC)