Via the Smithsonian Libraries blog:
This first one is not an article, but a dissertation:
The ministry of chance: British Romanticism, Darwinian evolutionary theory & the aleatory
by Burkett, Andrew, Ph.D., Duke University, 2008, 319 pages; AAT 3346753
Abstract The Ministry of Chance proposes that Charles Darwin’s emergent understanding and depiction of organic variation must be seen in direct and significant continuity with Romantic representations of the aleatory – that is, those forms, processes, and phenomena that are understood as governed by the operations of chance. Romantic literature murmurs quietly but continuously about the unexpected, the accidental, and the desultory. Moreover, although the concept of the aleatory has been largely overlooked by Romanticist critique, Romantic-era texts including William Wordsworth’s The Prelude (1799, 1805, 1850) and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Queen Mab (1813), Mont Blanc (1817), and Prometheus Unbound (1820) meditate often on chance and, in so doing, reveal that Romantic literature is not only topically preoccupied with chance but that it is also structurally dependent on the aleatory. The transition from first- to second-generation Romanticism is characterized, I suggest, by a gradual change in the way in which these poets envision causality, and these two historical moments are each the topic of a subsequent chapter of this project. Furthermore, this study aligns Darwin’s conception and representation of evolution with this shift in Romanticism. Driven by complex plots encrypted in minute and variational organic forms, Darwinian evolutionary theory is similarly founded upon chance, both formally and conceptually. In the years leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859), Darwin becomes increasingly fascinated with the aleatory. Moving beyond his analyses of island populations, Darwin begins investigating the role of chance in the dispersion of continental floral populations as examined in his “Botanical Arithmetic” drafts, a set of largely unpublished documents held at the University of Cambridge’s “Charles Darwin Archive.” My project puts this Romantic poetry and Darwinian science into conversation by drawing upon the work of three critical and theoretical fields: Science Studies, the history and philosophy of biology, and Romantic criticism and theory. Such a cross-disciplinary approach to the aleatory in these narratives helps to illuminate the ways that British Romanticism and Darwinian evolutionary theory together “cohabit” a nineteenth- century paradigm change in reconceptions of chance and causality.
Abstract Through an investigation of the public, professional, and private life of the Darwinian disciple George John Romanes, this essay seeks a better understanding of the scientific motivations for defending the practice of vivisection at the height of the controversy in late Victorian Britain. Setting aside a historiography that has tended to focus on the arguments of antivivisectionists, it reconstructs the viewpoint of the scientific community through an examination of Romanes’s work to help orchestrate the defense of animal experimentation. By embedding his life in three complicatedly overlapping networks—the world of print, interpersonal communications among an increasingly professionalized body of scientific men, and the intimacies of private life—the essay uses Romanes as a lens with which to focus the physiological apprehension of the antivivisection movement. It is a story of reputation, self‐interest, and affection.
From Museum History Journal:
Abstract This paper examines the history of one man’s engagement with one of the most dominant intellectual ideas of the second half of the nineteenth century—evolution—and the way this was given physical form in the display of his collections up to 1884. It will also discuss the subsequent changes wrought to his work by his museum descendants at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The collection does not contain any considerable number of unique specimens, and has been collected during upwards of twenty years, not for the purpose of surprising any one, either by the beauty or value of the objects exhibited, but solely with a view to instruction. For this purpose ordinary and typical specimens, rather than rare objects, have been selected and arranged in sequence, so as to trace, as far as practicable, the succession of ideas by which the minds of men in a primitive condition of culture have progressed from the simple to the complex, and from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.
From Evolution: Education and Outreach:
Abstract For the 1909 Darwin Centennial, the New York Academy of Sciences gave a large bronze bust of Charles Darwin to the American Museum of Natural History. Created by the well-known sculptor, William Couper, the bust was placed on its tall granite pedestal at the entrance at the newly designated exhibition hall, the Charles Darwin Hall of Invertebrate Zoology. Later that year, the American Museum ordered a bronze copy of the bust and presented it to Christ’s College, in Cambridge, England at the British Darwinian celebration. In 1935, Victor Von Hagen requested a plaster copy of the bust for a monument he was erecting on San Cristóbal in the Galapagos Islands to celebrate Darwin’s arrival in the Galapagos. During 1960, the American Museum of Natural History returned the original bronze bust to the New York Academy of Science, where it is now on display at its headquarters in New York City. To celebrate the Darwin bicentennial, the National Academy of Sciences recreated the bust in a computer-generated copy for display at their Washington, DC headquarters.
From Biology and Philosophy:
Abstract Frans de Waal’s view that empathy is at the basis of morality directly seems to build on Darwin, who considered sympathy as the crucial instinct. Yet when we look closer, their understanding of the central social instinct differs considerably. De Waal sees our deeply ingrained tendency to sympathize (or rather: empathize) with others as the good side of our morally dualistic nature. For Darwin, sympathizing was not the whole story of the “workings of sympathy“; the (selfish) need to receive sympathy played just as central a role in the complex roads from sympathy to morality. Darwin’s understanding of sympathy stems from Adam Smith, who argued that the presence of morally impure motives should not be a reason for cynicism about morality. I suggest that De Waal’s approach could benefit from a more thorough alignment with the analysis of the workings of sympathy in the work of Darwin and Adam Smith.
Ready for some beetle blogging? February is an appropriate month for The Dispersal of Darwin to host An Inordinate Fondness, for each February supporters of science and reason celebrate the birth of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) on the 12th. This year, he turned 202. Learn more about Darwin Day, and become a Friend of Charles Darwin, too. I specifically requested posts for AIF relating to Darwin and beetles or other figures in the history of science who worked on beetles. While that call for specific posts was largely unanswered, there are plenty of beetles on blogs to enjoy, and I’ll share some Darwin-related images from Flickr!
Dave Hubble’s ecology spot – Rhinoceros Beetles in Britain? Well, yes and no…: “Last night, over a vodka or two, a Russian friend of mine asked me whether we had Rhinoceros Beetles in Britain – we got there after chatting about how his small daughter was interested in bugs. My answer was along the lines of ‘no, but…’ and shows how the use of non-scientific (vernacular) names can be problematic i.e. it all depends what you mean by ‘rhinoceros beetle’.”
The Dispersal of Darwin – “Captured by C. Darwin, Esq”: “Darwin worked tirelessly in his home outside of London. Down House became a “country house” laboratory for his scientific endeavors, and he utilized many areas of the house and its grounds for his experiments. Yet while he worked away on his ‘one long argument,’ all he really wanted to do was get outside. To the entomologist John Lubbock, also Darwin’s neighbor, he wrote in 1854: ‘I do not know whether you care about Beetles, but for the chance I send this in a Bottle, which, I never remember having seen, though it is excessively rash to speak from a 26 year old remembrance. Whenever we meet you can tell me whether you know it.— … I feel like an old war-horse at the sound of the trumpet, when I read about the capturing of rare beetles— is not this a magnanimous simile for a decayed entomologist. It really almost makes me long to begin collecting again.'”
MObugs – Darkling Beetle: “Darkling beetles in the family Carabidae Tenebrionidaeare ( Thanks Ted for catching my faux pas) one of the most common beetles in the pet trade. These larger beetles are called Zophobas morio and the larvae are called Superworms. They are native to Central and South America, but made their way into the United States because of their large size and easy to rear nature.”
Beetles in the Bush – Featured Guest Photo – Dromica kolbei: “Although I have not collected this genus myself, I recognized it instantly as a member of such based on specimens and images I have seen. Carabidae of the World contains fine images of a number of species in this genus, of which Dromica kolbei (W. Horn, 1897) seems to be a pretty good match. However, more than 170 species are currently included in the genus, and while a modern revision is in progress (Schüle and Werner 2001; Schüle 2004, 2007), the bulk of the genus still remains to be treated. As a result, this really should be considered as just a provisional ID.”
Beetles in the Bush – Recent literature – The Coleopterists Bulletin: “I returned to the office this week after spending two weeks in Brazil to find the December 2010 of The Coleopterists Bulletin in my inbox. I don’t think there is another journal that I look forward to more eagerly than this one (with the possible exception of CICINDELA) – with each issue, I know that regardless of whether it contains any papers in my priority groups of interest (jewel beetles, longhorned beetles, and tiger beetles), it will nevertheless contain well-written articles presenting results of high-quality research on nothing but beetles – pure elytral ecstasy!”
Beetles in the Bush – Brazil Bugs #3 – Gorgulho Enorme!: “The second night at the hotel on the outskirts of Campinas (São Paulo, Brazil), I found this enormous weevil laying on the ground underneath some windows. It was dead but completely relaxed and in perfect shape. I wondered if it had been attracted to lights in the window the previous evening and flown there as its “last hurrah.” This beast of a weevil – measuring a good 30mm from the tip of the snout to the apex of the elytra – immediately brought to my mind giant palm weevils of the genus Rhynchophorus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).”
MYRMECOS – Friday Beetle Blogging: Army Ant Associates: “Last year army ant guru Carl Rettenmeyer posthumously published a paper documenting the tremendous diversity of animals associated with Eciton burchellii. Over 500, in fact. Eciton burchellii has a larger known entourage than any other species of animal. Although Eciton‘s associates are the best documented, all army ant species have them. Ant colonies represent a tremendous concentration of resources, and animals that have figured out how to subvert the ants’ communication systems gain access to rich stores of food.”
Skepchick – Shellac: it’s a bug AND a feature!: “For some reason, both Cochineal and Lac scales are often reported as beetles. I’ve seen this mistake made on the Straight Dope, among other places. Scale insects don’t undergo complete metamorphosis as a beetle would, so they don’t have larvae and pupae. In fact, scales have their own special freaky system of growth and reproduction in which the females loose their legs and turn into a sort of tiny insect Jabba the Hutt, and even tinier males fertilize them and die.”
MYRMECOS – Friday Beetle Blogging: Agra: “Agra is a tree-dwelling predator found from Texas south to Argentina. It belongs to the family Carabidae, the ground beetles, which is unfortunate as most Agra are canopy species found nowhere near the ground… I photographed this handsome specimen at the Maquipucuna cloud forest reserve on Ecuador’s western Andean slopes.”
Ecotrope – How bark beetles are pitting the U.S. vs. Canada: “The bark-eating beetles have been ravaging forests in British Columbia – with tens of millions of forestland acres laid to waste. Scientists worry that global warming will continue to fuel beetle outbreaks by keeping winter temperatures just high enough to allow the beetles to survive the winter and reproduce, where in the past severe cold would have killed them off. At issue is how the BC government and timber industry have handled the damaged trees – and the not-so damaged ones – on public lands.” (See a related video from Oregon Public Broadcasting.)
LabSpaces – 2 new species of ‘leaping’ beetles discovered: “Only five species of these so-called ‘flea’ beetles, out of a global total of 60, had been found to date in New Caledonia, in the western Pacific. A three-year study has now enabled Spanish researchers to discover two new herbivorous beetles – Arsipoda geographica and Arsipoda rostrata. These new beetles hold a secret – they feed on plants that the scientists have still not found on the archipelago.”
Catalogue of Organisms – Ground Beetles for Today: “The subject of today’s post is a group of ground beetles (Carabidae) that has been treated in the past as the subfamily Zuphiinae, but seems to now be more commonly treated as a supertribe Zuphiitae within the Harpalinae. Whatever their appropriate formal name, the zuphiites are distinguished by a relatively long and thick scape (the first major segment of the antennae) and spination on the first stylomere of the female’s ovipositor; the clade is also supported by molecular data.”
Kele’s Science Blog – Solving the “adaptive recursion” in Jamaican click beetles (I) & The genetics and phenotypes of the Jamaican click beetle (Adaptive Recursion II): “In my last post I started a new short series on some biologists’ attempts to solve what they call an “adaptive recursion” or in other words, to know the full story of a trait from the bottom level of the gene to the top levels of ecology and differential fitness. Ecological descriptions frequently become “just-so stories” – claims of adaptations and how they arose but with little evidence. All levels of detail should be known before any such arguments can be proclaimed and this is exactly what Uwe Stolz, Jeffrey Feder, and Sebastian Velez, and others are attempting to do with the bioluminescence of Jamaican click beetles.”
Beetles in the Bush – Calm waters, frenzied beetles: “Lazy waters are the domain of whirligig beetles (family Gyrinidae). We encountered this ‘raft’ of beetles in a sheltered pool near the shore of the North Fork River while hiking the Ozark Trail last October. These frenzied little beetles live almost exclusively on the surface of the water, where they feed on organisms or scavenge debris in their famously and erratically conspicuous aggregations. Such behavior might make them seem vulnerable to predation, but in actuality the reverse is true. Beetles in rafts benefit from the increased number of eyes that can better scan the environment for potential threats than can individual beetles (Vulinec and Miller 1989), and the larger the raft the more efficiently this occurs.”
Beetles in the Bush – Diversity in Tiger Beetle Larval Burrows: “To the uninitiated, tiger beetle burrows might seem nothing more than a simple hole in the ground – anything could have made it. However, with experience one becomes able to distinguish tiger beetle larval burrows almost instantly from burrows made by other ground-burrowing organisms. The most common type of burrow is recognized by a combination of characters – almost perfectly circular except for a slight flattening on one side that gives the burrow a faint D-shape, and with the edge smoothly beveled. This is your classic tiger beetle burrow and, for most U.S. species of Cicindela and related genera, averages ~5-6mm in diameter for 3rd instar larvae (tiger beetle burrows are most often observed at 3rd instar, since it is this final instar in which the larva spends the majority of its time and the burrow becomes most noticable).”
LabSpaces – Ginger is key ingredient in recipe for conserving stag beetles: “The humble ginger root could be the key to conserving the UK’s largest and most spectacular terrestrial beetle – the stag beetle. Ecologists from Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of York have developed a series of new methods to monitor stag beetle numbers – including ginger lures to trap adult beetles and tiny microphones to detect sounds made by the larvae in their underground nests. Conservation efforts have been hampered until now because ecologists lacked a reliable way of monitoring stag beetle numbers.”
Beetles in the Bush – “All the better to see you with, my dear!”: “Cicindela formosa (the big sand tiger beetle) is a not uncommon species that occurs across much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains in deep, dry, open sand habitats. It is absent in Appalachia and much of the Interior Highlands, understandable given the rarity of deep sand habitats on these elevated landforms; however, its absence across much of the southeastern coastal plain as well as south and west Texas, despite the widespread presence of apparently suitable habitat, is not easily explained.”
Bug Eric -Merchant Grain Beetle: “Even entomologists are not immune to pest insects in their homes. We are just a little more fascinated than we are revolted. So, when I found a tiny beetle crawling on the bathroom counter of my Tucson apartment on October 20, 2010, I naturally wanted to know more about it. I thought I had a good idea of its identity, but I was wrong about the species.”
Fall to Climb – Forgotten Photo Friday: Otiorhynchus ligustici – Alfalfa Snout Beetle: “Native to Europe, accidentally introduced to North America in the late 1800′s, declared a pest in New York in 1933, and spread to to Canada in the mid 60′s. It has only been detected in a few towns in eastern Ontario. It is supremely pesty to alfalfa plants everywhere. But, although it is pesty, it is a VERY BIG AND AWESOMELY SCALY BEETLE! And, since it is a Curculionid, it looks like Gonzo. They all do. So I love it, just a little bit.”
What’s Bugging You? – A Rare Beetle New to Virginia: “My insect survey at the VCU Rice Center continues to reveal species that are rarely collected and/or newly recorded for the Commonwealth of Virginia. While sorting through dozens of trap samples containing thousands of insects, I recently discovered three specimens of a rarely collected false click beetle (Eucnemidae), Xylophilus crassicornis. This collection represents the first records for the genus and species in Virginia.”
cicindela – Ellipsoptera marginata: “One of the rather unique tiger beetles occurring in Virginia is Ellipsoptera marginata. I photographed this species back in late June of 2009 at Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve where I was assisting in a survey for Habroscelimorpha dorsalis dorsalis.”
The Atavism – Sunday Spinelessness – Vanuatu scarab beetles: “As promised, it’s time to add a few tropical invertebrates to the mix of more temperate bugs I usually talk about here. Let’s start by redressing a bit of an imbalance in these Sunday Spinelessness posts. Up until now I’ve only written two posts about beetles, which something of an under-representation since about a quarter of all described species are beetles. I see plenty of beetles around our garden and in my travels around Dunedin, but few of them are large enough, or sufficiently cooperative, for me to get decent photographs. I had no such problem in Vanuatu.”
The Atavism – Sunday Spinelessness – Hadda beetle: “Time for another tropical beetle from Vanuatu, and what could be more charming than a ladybird? Or its absurdy spikey larvae?”
Nature Closeups – Colorful Snout Beetle: “I really love the colors on this snout beetle. Check out the detail. The image is not quite as sharp as I’d like, but just look at all those little colorful scales.” & Reddish Tortoise Beetles: “There were quite a few of these reddish tortoise beetles feeding on this banana plant.” & Mating Snout Beetles: “These beetles are tiny. Each one is only a few millimeters long.”
Dave Hubble’s ecology spot – Cretaceous Crato creature!: “Last year, I was mooching around some fossil sites online and found some insects for sale. They were from an old collection and had originally been collected from the Crato Formation in Brazil. Many interesting specimens had already been sold, but among those remaining was a rather nice little beetle (according to the seller) around 12.5mm long excluding appendages. Such items are popular with collectors (including plenty with more money than me), but this one had been broken in half and neatly glued. So, still complete, but less popular with collectors and hence more affordable. Result! I bought it…”
The Sam Wells Bug Page – Phloeodes diabolicus: “Ironclad beetles are the tanks of the insect world. They are famous (or infamous) for walking away after being stepped on. There are even reports of species being run over by cars without apparent harm. To an entomologist, they are notorious for the challenge of getting an insect pin through their thick skin (cuticle). What usually happens is the first attempt bends the pin. The second attempt bruises the thumb and forefinger to the bone. And then with a combination of anger and grit (and with two hands gripping the shaft) the pin is forced through the reinforced exoskeleton. With luck it has gone through straight and without popping the legs off on the other side. Very often it doesn’t – as verified by any number of oddly pinned specimens stuck to the bottom of unit trays in the museums of the world.”
cicindela – Tetracha virginica: “This toothy specimen is Tetracha virginica, a fairly large species (16-25mm), widespread in the eastern United States. This species is a deep oily metallic green; largely active at night when it nimbly forages for prey and is often attracted to lights. During the day it can be found taking shelter under miscellaneous ground cover.”
And finally, for any biologists or naturalists out there who go in the field to collect beetles, take note. Here’s a list of naturalists (Wall of the Dead) who have lost their lives while investigating nature. Of particular interest:
Bečvář, Stanislav (1938-1997), Czech entomologist, shot dead, age 59, by soldiers in Laos while collecting beetles. Here’s a detailed account of the incident. His son of the same name, also an entomologist, was seriously wounded in the attack but survived and continues to do field work.
Brodsky, Otakar (19??- 1986), Czech coleopterist, died of a heart attack, age unknown, while collecting Cleridae beetles in a rainforest in Vietnam. He was reportedly seated under a tree with his collecting equipment in his hands, and his colleagues didn’t immediately realize he was dead.
And there you have it, the 13th edition of An Inordinate Fondness. The next edition of AIF will be hosted at Wandering Weeta some time mid-March. Send your submissions directly to the host there (email), or through the submission form.
From the Journal of the History of Collections:
Lyall I. Anderson and Mathew Lowe
Abstract The University Museum of Zoology (Cambridge) holds Charles Darwin’s collection of microscope slide dissections prepared during his studies of living barnacles. This collection was assembled through an extensive network of museum contacts and amateur collectors. We examine in detail the role of one of these collectors, Charles W. Peach, a coastguard in the Customs Service. Detailed study of the slide collection reveals an internal chronology of manufacture against which timelines of Peach and Darwin’s activities can be compared. Four distinct phases of slide fixative are recognized and subsequent alterations to Darwin’s original collection can be demonstrated. The internal chronology also reveals that Darwin dissected and mounted barnacles as he received material, rather than working systematically through taxonomic groups. Aside from Peach, other suppliers of barnacles included Samuel Stutchbury, Joseph Hooker and Robert Damon.
The Geological Society, London has published a volume of papers on the history of dinosaur (or phylogenetically-related) paleontology, Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, edited by R.T.J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish (blog), and D.M. Martill:
The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.
And the papers:
Mark Evans, The roles played by museums, collections and collectors in the early history of reptile palaeontology [Abstract]
H. S. Torrens, William Perceval Hunter (1812–1878), forgotten English student of dinosaurs-to-be and of Wealden rocks [Abstract]
Leslie F. Noè, Jeff J. Liston and Sandra D. Chapman, ‘Old bones, dry subject’: the dinosaurs and pterosaur collected by Alfred Nicholson Leeds of Peterborough, England [Abstract]
Federico Fanti, Life and ideas of Giovanni Capellini (1833–1922): a palaeontological revolution in Italy [Abstract]
Richard T. J. Moody and Darren Naish, Alan Jack Charig (1927–1997): an overview of his academic accomplishments and role in the world of fossil reptile research [Abstract]
Susan Turner, Cynthia V. Burek and Richard T. J. Moody, Forgotten women in an extinct saurian (man’s) world [Abstract]
Xabier Pereda Suberbiola, José-Ignacio Ruiz-Omeñaca, Nathalie Bardet, Laura Piñuela and José-Carlos García-Ramos, Wilhelm (Guillermo) Schulz and the earliest discoveries of dinosaurs and marine reptiles in Spain [Abstract]
Matthew T. Carrano, Jeffrey A. Wilson and Paul M. Barrett, The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947 [Abstract]
Eric Buffetaut, Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations [Abstract]
Martin A. Whyte, Mike Romano and Will Watts, Yorkshire dinosaurs: a history in two parts [Abstract]
A. J. Bowden, G. R. Tresise and W. Simkiss, Chirotherium, the Liverpool footprint hunters and their interpretation of the Middle Trias environment [Abstract]
Darren Naish, Pneumaticity, the early years: Wealden Supergroup dinosaurs and the hypothesis of saurischian pneumaticity [Abstract]
Peter Wellnhofer, A short history of research on Archaeopteryx and its relationship with dinosaurs [Abstract]
Kasper Lykke Hansen, A history of digit identification in the manus of theropods (including Aves) [Abstract]
Attila Osi, Edina Prondvai and Barnabás Géczy, The history of Late Jurassic pterosaurs housed in Hungarian collections and the revision of the holotype of Pterodactylus micronyx Meyer 1856 (a ‘Pester Exemplar’) [Abstract]
David M. Martill, The early history of pterosaur discovery in Great Britain [Abstract]
Mark P. Witton, Pteranodon and beyond: the history of giant pterosaurs from 1870 onwards [Abstract]
Jean Le Loeuff, Art and palaeontology in German-occupied France: Les Diplodocus by Mathurin Méheut (1943) [Abstract]
J. J. Liston, 2000 A.D. and the new ‘Flesh’: first to report the dinosaur renaissance in ‘moving’ pictures [Abstract]
Michael P. Taylor, Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review [Abstract]
Last summer, when I was viewing an exhibit about Darwin and geology at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge, England, I did not think I would be reviewing it for the Journal of the History of Biology. But I have, and it is now up online:
Exhibit Review: Darwin the Geologist, The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. Opened July 2009, Permanent. Curator: Francis Neary. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Opened in 1904 in memory of the geologist Adam Sedgwick, and containing the collections Sedgwick and John Woodward had previously accumulated, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences houses a vast collection of geological and paleontological specimens, including some collected by Darwin himself during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. The Sedgwick acts as a fitting locale, then, for an exhibit exploring Darwin and his geological work. Darwin the Geologist, a permanent exhibit opened in July 2009 to coincide with Cambridge’s Darwin anniversary celebrations, evolved from a temporary exhibit at the museum that had been titled Charles Darwin – Becoming a Geologist and had been on display from September 2008 to June 2009.
Darwin the Geologist tells the story of Darwin’s career as a geologist, displaying not only some of the 1,500 of Darwin’s actual specimens that the Sedgwick holds, but also books, geological tools, maps, and even a pistol carried by Darwin on the Beagle. The exhibit is an exploration of the development of Darwin’s ideas about the Earth and how they related to the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin is more commonly labeled as a naturalist, or biologist, because of his work on evolution, but as Sandra Herbert has convincingly shown in Charles Darwin, Geologist (Cornell University Press, 2005), he was a self-proclaimed geologist and pursued his interests in geology in many ways from the Beagle voyage (1831–1836) leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. Geology, as an exhibit label attests, dominated Darwin’s early scientific career, and his ‘‘reputation as a scientist was built on his training as a geologist.’’
Situated among the beautiful and tall glass and wooden display cases, Darwin the Geologist fills one end of the museum’s two-winged gallery, replacing what used to be displays about the Holocene epoch. The exhibit displays are organized chronologically, beginning with Darwin’s childhood fascination with collecting and into his education at Edinburgh, where Darwin was introduced to geology, and Cambridge, where Darwin met John Stevens Henslow and gained collecting and field-work experience on a geological field excursion to Wales with Adam Sedgwick. More displays are devoted to the Beagle voyage, as this afforded Darwin more opportunities to practice geology and to think about the forces that created the landscapes he visited. We learn about a raised coastline at Sa˜o Tiago in the Cape Verde Islands and the numerous fossils Darwin discovered, including the famous Megatherium; of the geology of the Andes and the formation of igneous rocks at the Galapagos Islands; and the growth of coral reefs in the Pacific. We learn about Syms Covington, Darwin’s assistant during and after the voyage, and the many specialists to whom Darwin farmed out his geological specimens for identification: William Miller for minerals, Robert Brown for fossil plants, Alcide D’Orbigny for fossil shells, Richard Owen for fossil mammals, and William Clift for the fossil teeth of Megatherium. We are shown how Darwin became a member and later secretary of the Geological Society of London as a result of his geological work on the Beagle.
A label reflecting on Archibald Geikie’s centenary celebration lecture in Cambridge (1909) [Charles Darwin as Geologist: The Rede Lecture, Given at the Darwin Centennial Commemoration on 24 June 1909 (Cambridge Library Collection - Life Sciences)] about Darwin’s geology—‘‘Since 1909 Darwin’s theory of evolution has played an increasingly important role in our understanding of life on Earth, while his geological theories have been largely forgotten’’—segues between Darwin’s own life and work and labels showing how more recent scientists have used Darwin’s collections and ideas in their geological work. For example, geologist Lyall Anderson studies rocks from the Beagle collection to consider Darwin’s collecting practices. Darwin received some specimens as gifts from other geologists, such as Andrew Smith. Through studying the rocks themselves, Anderson has been able to conclude that Darwin included in his collection specimens he did not collect himself. Similar research by Sally Gibson has helped to understand Darwin’s geological route on the island of Santiago in the Galapagos. While the Beagle collection is of importance to scientists, the specimens can help to answer questions important to historians of science as well. Darwin the Geologist stresses this point. Anderson is quoted in a label: ‘‘From a personal point of view I think my biggest surprise was that Darwin didn’t collect everything himself. Maybe that’s a misconception that the Darwin Industry has kept running.’’ While Darwin is surely an important figure, lesser-known figures in the work brought Darwin his scientific fame.
Smaller displays between the larger glass cases emphasize other aspects of Darwin’s geology. From the influences of Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Lyell to the letter of introduction inviting Darwin to join the Beagle, these displays flesh out the story and provide contextual information. Several consider various practices associated with geology, such as how to collect appropriate specimens, the use of field notebooks, and the analysis and interpretation of specimens, and how this work for Darwin resulted in various publications. Some of the smaller displays discuss Darwin’s ‘‘scientific failure’’ in theorizing how the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy in Scotland were formed, how geology figured into On the Origin of Species, and how Darwin continued to study geological topics after the publication of Origin, most notably with earthworms and the formation of soil, the subject of his last book. Also included in the exhibit are a recreation of Darwin’s cabin on the Beagle and an interactive globe showing the places where Darwin collected particular specimens. A touchscreen allows visitors to go behind the scenes of the exhibit, which is essentially a collection of the posts from the blog that accompanies Darwin the Geologist and is accessible at http://darwinthegeologist.org/.
The exhibit does a fine job of placing Darwin’s work in the context of geological questions at the time. It does not address the ‘‘Genesis and geology’’ dispute in the nineteenth century beyond one label stating that ‘‘Heated debate and controversy over science and religion captured the public imagination,’’ nor is there a label stressing the importance of correspondence to scientific practice. These minor quibbles aside, Darwin the Geologist offers a wealth of interesting material in both the objects on display and the accompanying labels, and it does it in a rather small space. It is a well-organized exhibit, and includes a wonderful artistic tribute to Darwin. While a life-size bronze of a young Darwin, by Cambridge alum and zoologist-turned-artist Anthony Smith, now adorns a garden in Christ’s College at Cambridge, a bronze bust also by Smith oversees Darwin the Geologist as if to suggest that Darwin himself is either the epitome of humankind (for Darwin is situated at the most recent end of the geological and paleontological timescale that is the Sedgwick Museum) or a typical specimen of humankind. The former runs the risk of claims of hagiography. The latter is more likely, as the exhibit suggests that scientific discovery follows from curiosity, and Darwin the Geologist surely expresses throughout to its visitors the act of scientific discovery. If nothing else, the statues help to emphasize that for much of the work that made Darwin a reputable scientist, he was an energetic young man eager to explore the world around him, not always the long-bearded sage of Downe.
Michael D. Barton
Montana State University
The photos I took of the exhibit can be seen here.
From UCSD Science Studies Program (blog):
Empires of Science in the Long Nineteenth Century
9-10 April @ Huntington Library
Register by 2 April 2010
Empires of Science in the Long Nineteenth Century
This international conference explores the relationship during the long nineteenth century between rapidly developing science and technology and the expansion of territorial empires, exploring issues such as: How was science actually practiced on national and imperial frontiers? What role did science and technology play in the development of political and intellectual empires? What influence did governments and scientific institutions have in creating, regulating, and disseminating scientific research and practice within empire?
Friday, April 9, 2010
8:30 Registration & Coffee
9:30 Welcome Robert C. Ritchie (The Huntington)
Remarks Nigel Rigby (National Maritime Museum)
Session 1 Networks of Empire
Moderator: Nigel Rigby
Crosbie Smith (University of Kent)
Energies of Empire: The Making of Long Distance Ocean Steamships in the
John McAleer (National Maritime Museum)
Stargazers at the Worlds End: Observatories, Telescopes, and Views of
Empire in the Nineteenth-Century British World
Session 2 Mapping Space
Moderator: Kathryn Olesko (Georgetown University)
John Rennie Short (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Cartographic Encounters on the Nineteenth-Century United States Western
Michael Reidy (Montana State University)
From Oceans to Mountains: The Spatial Construction of Empire
Session 3 Natural History
Moderator: Robert C. Ritchie
Janet Browne (Harvard University)
Nature on Display: Collecting and Showing Natural History Specimens in the
Age of Empire
Daniel Headrick (Roosevelt University)
Botany in the Dutch and British Colonial Empires
Saturday, April 10, 2010
9:00 Registration & Coffee
Session 4 Imperial Spaces
Moderator: Adam R. Shapiro (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Daniela Bleichmar (University of Southern California)
Rediscovering the New World: Spanish Imperial Science, ca. 1780-1810
Lewis Pyenson (Western Michigan University)
Two Incarnations of Athena: Scientists in the Service of lebensraum in the
Nineteenth Century in the United States, Argentina, and Russia
Session 5 Science and Colonial Identities
Moderator: Warren Dym (Bucknell University)
Saul Dubow (University of Sussex)
British Imperialism, Settler Colonialism, and Scientific Thought in the
Lina del Castillo (Iowa State University)
The Gran Colombian Cartography Project, 1821-1830
Session 6 Institutions and Imperial Science
Moderator: Daniel Headrick
Rebekah Higgitt (National Maritime Museum)
Exporting Greenwich: The Royal Observatory as a Model for Imperial
Max Jones (University of Manchester)
Heroes of Empire? Geographical Societies, the Media, and the Promotion of
A new article in the Journal of the History of Collections:
Lyall I. Anderson and Matthew Lowe
The University Museum of Zoology (Cambridge) holds Charles Darwin’s collection of microscope slide dissections prepared during his studies of living barnacles. This collection was assembled through an extensive network of museum contacts and amateur collectors. We examine in detail the role of one of these collectors, Charles W. Peach, a coastguard in the Customs Service. Detailed study of the slide collection reveals an internal chronology of manufacture against which timelines of Peach and Darwin’s activities can be compared. Four distinct phases of slide fixative are recognized and subsequent alterations to Darwin’s original collection can be demonstrated. The internal chronology also reveals that Darwin dissected and mounted barnacles as he received material, rather than working systematically through taxonomic groups. Aside from Peach, other suppliers of barnacles included Samuel Stutchbury, Joseph Hooker and Robert Damon.
From the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (London) comes a book for children that accompanies their education program, The Great Plant Hunt: following in Darwin’s footsteps. Following in Darwin’s Footsteps is due out in May 2010. The Great Plant Hunt also has a YouTube page, which includes a little song:
Speaking of Darwin and plants, the University of Cambridge has launched a new website, Darwin’s Plants from the Beagle Voyage, where “you can see high resolution images of the very plants collected by Charles Darwin on his round-the-world voyage on HMS Beagle 1831 to 1836.”
Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog,” statue at NHM, London, originally uploaded by darwinsbulldog.
In his post “A day at the museum” at Why Evolution is True, Greg Mayer surveys the National Museum of Natural History, and notes that in September two new temporary exhibits related to Darwin open. From the Smithsonian website for NMNH:
Location: Ground Floor, Constitution Avenue Lobby Cases, Exhibit: September 10, 2009 – September 12, 2010
November 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking On the Origin of Species. His theory of evolution by natural selection grew out of his work as a naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a five year journey around South America and the Galápagos Islands. Darwin’s theory soon found supporters at the Smithsonian, including Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and it continues to guide research at the National Museum of Natural History.
Since Darwin: The Evolution of Evolution
Location: First Floor, Exhibit: September 12, 2009 – July 18, 2010
Celebrate with us the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species. This exhibition focuses on the significant role that Darwin’s theories have played in explaining and unifying all the biological sciences. Specimens from the Museum’s diverse collections, along with documentation from our ongoing research, illustrate the importance of evolution as a scientific foundation, and how our knowledge of evolution has evolved over the last 150 years.
Lyall Anderson, a paleontologist working at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, has just published the following article:
Lyall I. Anderson, “Charles Darwin and Andrew Smith – an overseas exchange.” Scottish Journal of Geology 45 (2009): 59-68.
Here is the abstract:
Charles Darwin met Andrew Smith in Cape Town, southern Africa on the last leg of his voyage aboard HMS Beagle (1831-1836). Both men shared a common background of having attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh although there was no apparent overlap of their times there; the latter became a career medic whereas the former did not. Evidence from the Beagle Collection of geological samples held at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences reveals that as well as accompanying Darwin on geological fieldwork around Cape Town, Smith supplied him with rocks which he had collected personally during his expedition to central southern Africa the previous year (1835). The two men remained firm correspondents until the year before Smith’s death in 1872.
Anderson, who is researching Darwin’s geology collection at the museum, is also organizing the conference “Darwin in the Field: Collecting, Observation and Experiment” in Cambridge in July, which I posted about here. Oh, and I am going to this conference!
If you have ever looked at a dog waiting to go for a walk and thought there was something age-old and almost human about his sad expression, you’re not alone; Charles Darwin did exactly the same. But Darwin didn’t just stop at feeling that there was some connection between humans and dogs. English gentleman naturalist, great pioneer of the theory of evolution and incurable dog-lover, Darwin used his much-loved dogs as evidence in his continuing argument that all animals including human beings, descended from one common ancestor. From his fondly written letters home enquiring after the health of family pets to his profound scientific consideration of the ancestry of the domesticated dog, Emma Townshend looks at Darwin’s life and work from a uniquely canine perspective.
Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (3rd ed.) by Gillian Beer:
Gillian Beer’s classic Darwin’s Plots, one of the most influential works of literary criticism and cultural history of the last quarter century, is here reissued in an updated edition to coincide with the anniversary of Darwin’s birth and of the publication of The Origin of Species. Its focus on how writers, including George Eliot, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hardy, responded to Darwin’s discoveries and to his innovations in scientific language continues to open up new approaches to Darwin’s thought and to its effects in the culture of his contemporaries. This third edition includes an important new essay that investigates Darwin’s concern with consciousness across all forms of organic life. It demonstrates how this fascination persisted throughout his career and affected his methods and discoveries. With an updated bibliography reflecting recent work in the field, this book will retain its place at the heart of Victorian studies.
The Voyage of the “Beagle”: Journals and Remarks [ABRIDGED Audio CD] by Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins:
A definite precursor to “On The Origin of Species”, this non-fiction travel journal is a fascinating record of Darwin’s observations of far-flung civilisations and the flora, fauna and human life he found there. His journey took in: Santiago – Cape Verde Islands; Saint Peter and Paul Rocks; Rio de Janeiro; Maldonado; Rio Negro to Bahia Blanca; Bahia Blanca; Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires; Buenos Aires and St. Fe; Banda Oriental and Patagonia; Santa Cruz, Patagonia, and The Falkland Islands; Tierra del Fuego; Strait of Magellan; Climate of the Southern Coasts; Central Chile; Chiloe Island and Chonos Islands; Concepcion: Great Earthquake; Passage of the Cordillera; Northern Chile and Peru Galapagos; Archipelago Tahiti and New Zealand; Australia; Keeling Island – Coral Formations; and Mauritius to England. Darwin spent much of the voyage exploring on-land rather than at sea, and his explorations led to the beginnings of ‘evolutionary’ theories. He observed, for example, how finches’ beaks varied and seemed localized in shape and form to particular islands or climates. Thus emerged the notion that a kind of ‘natural selection’ rather than a divine power may be responsible – each creature adapting physically to its particular environment over generations. This is an incredibly important and enlightening non-fiction work.
Darwin in Scotland: Edinburgh, Evolution and Enlightenment by J.F. Derry:
This is the first book on Darwin and Darwinism that wholly concentrates on his time spent in Scotland and the key contributions to his future insights made by the Scottish Enlightenment and the University of Edinburgh. Darwin developed his theories because he attended Edinburgh University – although he participated little in formal tuition, it was through interaction with his tutors, peers and extracurricular groups that he was exposed to an ethos of naturalistic philosophy rooted in the Scottish Enlightenment and, by direct descent, the Ancient Greeks. If he had bypassed Scotland and gone straight to Cambridge, his education would have been theologically-based and unlikely to have given him the perspective that led him to question the prevailing doctrine. It is also the first book to explore the subsequent impact of his work on modern day biologists at the University of Edinburgh. How far have we moved on since Darwin made his discoveries? Are his theories still relevant to modern-day science? Can we say if they will be relevant in the future? And, what should we be teaching future generations? The relevance of Darwin in debate is as important and volatile now as when “The Origin of Species” was first published a century and a half ago. Science and religion seem to have reached an impasse. Intelligent Design, the conflicting view to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, is the new kid on the block that the science gang wants nothing to do with. All the major issues in evolutionary study are covered here, through interviews with scientists, educators and creationists. They include some of the world leaders in the biological sciences at Edinburgh University, and they are most revealing about what Darwin has meant to them and their work.
The Darwins of Shrewsbury by Andrew Pattison:
Many people have written biographies of Charles Darwin, but the story of his family and roots in Shrewsbury is little known. This book, containing original research, fills that gap. The key player is Charles’ father, Dr Robert Darwin, a larger-than-life character whose financial acumen enabled Charles to spend his whole life on research unencumbered by money worries. Through Susannah, Charles’ mother, we are introduced to the Wedgwood family, whose history was so closely interwoven with the Darwins. The stories of Charles’ five siblings are detailed, and there is a wealth of local material, such as information on Shrewsbury School and its illustrious headmaster, Samuel Butler. The book is fully illustrated with contemporary and modern pictures, and will be of interest to anyone wanting to discover more about the development of Shrewsbury’s most famous son.
Darwin in the Archives: Papers on Charles Darwin from the Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History and Archives of Natural History, edited by Charles Nelson and Duncan M. Porter:
A Special Publication of the journal Archives of Natural History to coincide with the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.
Philosophy After Darwin: Classic and Contemporary Readings by Michael Ruse
Charles Darwin: After the Origin by Sheila Ann Dean:
What did Charles Darwin do during the 22 years after the Origin of Species was published? “Charles Darwin: After the Origin,” a new book by Darwin scholar Sheila Ann Dean, answers that question and many others about the work Darwin undertook while controversies instigated by the Origin stirred the Victorian world. Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the international Darwin Day celebration, the book serves as a companion piece to the to the collaborative 2009 exhibition at Cornell University Library and the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI). Dean is a guest curator and visiting scholar at the Library, and her book is published by Cornell University Library and PRI.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and Nicholle Rager Fuller
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins:
In a brilliant follow-up to his blockbuster The God Delusion, Dawkins lays out the evidence for evolution.
Darwin in Ilkley by Mike Dixon and Gregory Radick
2009 is a double jubilee for Charles Darwin (1809-1882). The world celebrates his 200th birthday and also the 150th anniversary of the first edition of his epoch-making title On the Origin of Species. This book revolutionized the knowledge of biology and led to hot debates between scientists around the world. The present work for the first time documents the influence of Darwinism to the fine arts. The famous Frankfurt museum Schirn presents 150 paintings, drawings and lithographs as well as rare and ex?ceptional documentations. The exhibition includes works by Frederic Church, Frantiek Kupka, Odilon Redon, George Frederic Watts, Arnold Bcklin, Max Ernst and many more thus covering a period from 1859 to the middle of the 20th century.
Darwin’s Notebook: The Life, Times, and Discoveries of Charles Robert Darwin by Jonathan Clements:
Darwin’s Bards is the first comprehensive study of how poets have responded to the ideas of Charles Darwin in over fifty years. John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the Darwinian condition. Is a Darwinian universe necessarily a godless one? If not, what might Darwinism tell us about the nature of God? Is Darwinism compatible with immortality, and if not, how can we face our own deaths or the loss of those we love? What is our own place in the Darwinian universe, and our ecological role here on earth? How does our kinship with other animals affect how we see them? How does the fact that we are animals ourselves alter how we think about our own desires, love and sexual morality? All told, is life in a Darwinian universe grounds for celebration or despair? Holmes explores the ways in which some of the most perceptive and powerful British and American poets of the last hundred-and-fifty years have grappled with these questions, from Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy, through Robert Frost and Edna St Vincent Millay, to Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Amy Clampitt and Edwin Morgan. Reading their poetry, we too can experience what it can mean to live in a Darwinian world. Written in an accessible and engaging style, and aimed at scientists, theologians, philosophers and ecologists as well as poets, critics and students of literature, Darwin’s Bards is a timely intervention into the heated debates over Darwin’s legacy for religion, ecology and the arts.
In the Wake of the Beagle: Science in the Southern Oceans from the Age of Darwin, edited by Nigel Erskine and Iain McCalman:
This book shows the importance of the southern oceans to Darwin’s theories. Publication coincides with the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of publication of “On the Origin of Species”. This highly illustrated and beautifully designed full-colour book will examine Darwin (and his contemporaries) from a very modern perspective, linking their voyages with today’s scientific developments and debates about climate change, ecology and creationism. Strange as it may seem, the long wake of the tiny HMS Beagle stretches from the nineteenth century into the future of our globe. Charles Darwin spent only three months in Australia, but Australasia and the Pacific contributed to his evolutionary thinking in a variety of ways. One hundred and fifty years after the publication of “On the Origin of Species” the internationally acclaimed authors of “In the Wake of the Beagle” provide new insights into the world of collecting, surveying and cross-cultural exchange in the antipodes in the age of Darwin. They explore the groundbreaking work of Darwin and his contemporaries Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace, examine the complex trading relationships of the region’s daring voyagers, and take a very modern look at today’s cutting-edge scientific research, at a time when global warming has raised the stakes to an unprecedented level.
The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution by Carl Zimmer:
The Tangled Bank is the first textbook about evolution intended for the general reader. Zimmer, an award-winning science writer, takes readers on a fascinating journey into the latest discoveries about evolution. In the Canadian Arctic, paleontologists unearth fossils documenting the move of our ancestors from sea to land. In the outback of Australia, a zoologist tracks some of the world’s deadliest snakes to decipher the 100-million-year evolution of venom molecules. In Africa, geneticists are gathering DNA to probe the origin of our species. In clear, non-technical language, Zimmer explains the central concepts essential for understanding new advances in evolution, including natural selection, genetic drift, and sexual selection. He demonstrates how vital evolution is to all branches of modern biology–from the fight against deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the analysis of the human genome. Richly illustrated with over 300 illustrations and photographs, The Tangled Bank is essential reading for anyone who wants understand the history of life on Earth.
Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution by Philip Prodger:
Darwin’s Camera tells the extraordinary story of how Charles Darwin not only changed the course of science; he forever changed the way pictures are seen and made. In his illustrated masterpiece, Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1871), Darwin introduced the idea of using photographs to illustrate a scientific theory–his was the first photographically-illustrated science book ever published. Using photographs to depict fleeting expressions of emotion–laughter, crying, anger, and so on–as they flit across a person’s face, he managed to produce dramatic images at a time when photography was famously slow and awkward. The things he wanted to photograph changed too quickly to be photographed easily, and he struggled to get the pictures he needed. So he scoured the galleries, bookshops, and photographic studios of London, looking for pictures to satisfy his demand for expressive imagery. He finally settled on one the giants of photographic history, the eccentric art photographer Oscar Rejlander, to make his pictures. It was a peculiar choice. Darwin was known for his meticulous science, while Rejlander was notorious for altering and manipulating photographs. Their remarkable collaboration, and the lengths they went to to create the pictures Darwin needed, is one of the astonishing revelations in Darwin’s Camera. Darwin never studied art formally, but he was always interested in art and often drew on art knowledge as his work unfolded. He studied art as a student and befriended the artists on the voyage of HMS Beagle, he visited art museums to examine figures and animals in paintings, he made friends with artists, and read art history books. He befriended the celebrated animal painters Joseph Wolf and Briton Riviere, and accepted the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner as a trusted guide. He corresponded with legendary photographers Lewis Caroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, and G.-B. Duchenne de Boulogne, as well as many lesser lights. Darwin’s Camera provides the first examination ever of these relationships and their effect on Darwin’s work, and how Darwin, in turn, shaped the history of art.
But Is It Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy, Updated Edition, edited by Robert T. Pennock and Michael Ruse:
Updated Edition On December 20, 2005, a U.S. district court in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board that teaching Intelligent Design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The judge explained that Intelligent Design is not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” This case was just the latest attempt by proponents of Intelligent Design or Creationism to undermine the teaching of evolution in high school biology classes. The emotionally charged controversy, which has been going on since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, shows no sign of letting up. This excellent collection, now fully updated, will inform readers about the history of the debate and bring philosophical clarity to the complex arguments on both sides. The editors, both of whom served as expert witnesses in two different court cases, start by chronicling the heated discussion that surrounded the publication of Darwin’s famous work. In the next part, they present articles that explicate modern evolutionary theory, including philosophical critiques by Karl Popper and others. The selections that follow discuss so-called Creation Science, focusing in particular on the 1981 McLean court case in Arkansas. In the final section, the philosophical issues surrounding the distinction between religion and science in the most recent Kitzmiller case are considered. This outstanding overview of an important contemporary debate shows that philosophy has a vital role to play in major decisions affecting education and interpretations of science and religion.
This is the first full edition of the notebooks used by Darwin during his epic voyage in the Beagle. It contains transcriptions of all fifteen notebooks, which now survive as some of the most precious documents in the history of science. The notebooks record the entire range of Darwin’s interests and activities during the Beagle journey, with observations on geology, zoology, botany, ecology, barometer and thermometer readings, ethnography, anthropology, archaeology and linguistics, along with maps, drawings, financial records, shopping lists, reading notes, essays and personal diary entries. Some of Darwin’s critical discoveries and experiences, made famous through his own publications, are recorded in their most immediate form in the notebooks, and published here for the first time. The notebook texts are accompanied by full editorial apparatus and introductions explaining Darwin’s actions at each stage, focussing on discoveries that were pivotal to convincing him that life on Earth had evolved.
Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution by David F. Prindle:
Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould was, until his death in 2002, America’s best-known natural scientist. His monthly essays in Natural History magazine were widely read by both scientists and ordinary citizens with an interest in science. One of his books won the National Book Award, and another was a bestseller in three countries. Philosopher Daniel Dennett proclaimed him “America’s evolutionist laureate.” While many people have written about Gould’s science, pro and con, and a few have written about his politics, this is the first book to explore his science and politics as a consistent whole. Political scientist David F. Prindle argues that Gould’s mind worked along two tracks simultaneously –the scientific and the political. All of his concepts and arguments were bona fide contributions to science, but all of them also contained specifically political implications. As one example among many, Prindle cites Gould’s controversial argument that if the “tape of evolution” could be rewound and then allowed to unspool again, nothing resembling human beings would likely evolve. This was part of his larger thesis that people are not the result of a natural tendency toward perfection in evolution, but the result of chance, or as Gould put it, contingency. As Prindle notes, Gould s scientific ideas often sought to attack human hubris, and thus prepare the ground for the political argument that people should treat nature with more restraint. Prindle evaluates Gould’s concepts of punctuated equilibrium (developed with Niles Eldredge), “spandrels”, and “exaptation”; his stance on sociobiology, on human inequality and intelligence testing; his pivotal role in the culture wars between science and fundamentalist Christianity; and claims that he was a closet Marxist, which Prindle disputes. He continually emphasizes that in all these debates Gould’s science cannot be understood without an understanding of his politics. He concludes by considering whether Gould offered a new theory of evolution. Anyone with an interest in one of America’s great scientists, or in paleontology, evolutionary theory, or intellectual history will find Stephen Jay Gould and the Politics of Evolution to be a fascinating exploration of the man and his ideas.
Michael Ruse is one of the foremost Charles Darwin scholars of our time. For forty years he has written extensively on Darwin, the scientific revolution that his work precipitated, and the nature and implications of evolutionary thinking for today. Now, in the year marking the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of his masterpiece, On the “Origin of Species”, Ruse re-evaluates the legacy of Darwin in this collection of new and recent essays. Beginning with pre-Darwinian concepts of organic origins proposed by the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Ruse shows the challenges that Darwin’s radically different idea faced. He then discusses natural selection as a powerful metaphor; Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution; Herbert Spencer’s contribution to evolutionary biology; the synthesis of Mendelian genetics and natural selection; the different views of Julian Huxley and George Gaylord Simpson on evolutionary ethics; and the influence of Darwin’s ideas on literature. In the final section, Ruse brings the discussion up to date with a consideration of ‘evolutionary development’ (dubbed ‘evo devo’) as a new evolutionary paradigm and the effects of Darwin on religion, especially the debate surrounding Intelligent Design theory. Ruse offers a fresh perspective on topics old and new, challenging the reader to think again about the nature and consequences of what has been described as the biggest idea ever conceived.
Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America by Cannon Schmitt:
When the young Charles Darwin landed on the shores of Tierra del Fuego in 1832, he was overwhelmed: nothing had prepared him for the sight of what he called ‘an untamed savage’. The shock he felt, repeatedly recalled in later years, definitively shaped his theory of evolution. In this original and wide-ranging study, Cannon Schmitt shows how Darwin and other Victorian naturalists transformed such encounters with South America and its indigenous peoples into influential accounts of biological and historical change. Redefining what it means to be human, they argue that the modern self must be understood in relation to a variety of pasts – personal, historical, and ancestral – conceived of as savage. Schmitt reshapes our understanding of Victorian imperialism, revisits the implications of Darwinian theory, and demonstrates the pertinence of nineteenth-century biological thought to current theorizations of memory.
Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) by Matt Young and Paul K. Strode:
Focusing on what other books omit, how science works and how pseudoscience works, Matt Young and Paul K. Strode demonstrate the futility of “scientific” creationism. They debunk the notion of intelligent design and other arguments that show evolution could not have produced life in its present form. Concluding with a frank discussion of science and religion, Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) argues that science by no means excludes religion, though it ought to cast doubt on certain religious claims that are contrary to known scientific fact.
The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture, edited by Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer:
Inspired by the Charles Darwin bicentennial, The Art of Evolution presents a collection of essays by international scholars renowned for their ground-breaking work on Darwin. The book not only includes a discussion of the popular imagery that immediately followed the publication of On the Origin of Species, but it also traces the impact of Darwin’s ideas on visual culture over time and throughout the Western world. The contributors analyze the visual expression of a broad range of Darwin-inspired subjects, including eugenics, aesthetics and sexual selection, monera and protoplasm theories, social Darwinism and colonialism, the Taylorized body, and the natural history of surrealism. The visual imagery responding to Darwin and Darwinism ranges from popular caricature to state propaganda to major trends within Modern Art and Modernism. This rarely addressed subject will enrich our understanding of Darwin’s impact across disciplines and reveal how transformations in science were manifested visually in so many enticingly unexpected ways.
Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal, and the Rise of Naturalism 1862-1864 by Marsha Driscoll et al.:
Part of the “Reacting to the Past” series, this text consists of a game in which students experience firsthand the tension between natural and teleological views of the world–manifested especially in reconsideration of the design argument commonly known through William Paley’s Natural Theology or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802).
From the Los Angeles Times (11/1/08):
Science historian Dan Lewis opened the green cloth cover of “The Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin’s classic work on evolutionary biology, and flipped to Page 20.
And there, in the 11th line of text, was the telltale typo: “Speceies.”
That misprint marked the book as one of the 1,250 copies originally published in London in 1859.
“If you’re at a garage sale and you see an old copy, check for this,” said Lewis, an expert on the history of science and technology at the Huntington Library in San Marino.
Darwin’s book is part of a consolidation of the Huntington’s collection of rare science books with the 67,000-volume Burndy Library, which had been housed at MIT.
Roughly one-fifth of the Huntington’s holdings came through its 2006 acquisition of the Burndy collection, amassed by Bern Dibner, an electrical engineer and scholar who made a fortune after inventing the first solderless electrical connector in 1924.
The gift was made on the condition that the Huntington create a permanent exhibit on the history of science and technology. That promise is set to be fulfilled today with the opening of “Beautiful Science: Ideas That Changed the World,” a permanent exhibit dedicated to books, manuscripts, letters and scientific devices that tell the history of discovery in the fields of astronomy, natural history, medicine and light.
The latest issue of the online journal museum and society, “Constructing Nature Behind the Glass,” is available online:
museum and society
july 2008, volume 6 no. 2, Special issue: Constructing Nature Behind the Glass, edited by Samuel J. M.M. Alberti and Christopher Whitehead
Constructing nature behind the glass
Samuel J.M.M. Alberti
Repair work: surfacing the geographies of dead animals
Merle Patchett and Kate Foster
The matter and meaning of museum taxidermy
Ken Arnold, Cabinets for the Curious: Looking Back at Early English Museums
Conal McCarthy, Exhibiting Maori: A History of Colonial Cultures of Display Curiosity and Enlightenment: Collectors and Collections from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth century
From Today in Science History:
Olof Swartz (Born 21 Sep 1760; died 19 Sep 1818). Swedish botanist who left a legacy of a collection of plants from his botanical tours of the West Indies, Jamaica, North America, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba between 1783-87. On his return, he described nearly 900 species, most of them new, in Flora Indiae occidentalis (3 vols., 1797-1806). The Swedish Museum of Natural History now holds the collection, about 6000 specimens of phanerogams and ferns, mostly from the West Indies. It is a part of their Regnellian herbarium. He is also noted for his taxonomic studies of specific plant groups, including orchids, mosses and especially ferns. He also published Nova Genera et Species Plantarum seu Prodromus (1788) and Observationes botanicae (1791).
From Today in Science History:
Carl Erich Correns (Born 19 Sep 1864; died 14 Feb 1933). German botanist and geneticist who in 1900, independent of, but simultaneously with, the biologists Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg and Hugo de Vries, rediscovered Gregor Mendel’s historic paper outlining the principles of heredity. In attempting to ascertain the extent to which Mendel’s laws are valid, he undertook a classic study of non-Mendelian heredity in variegated plants, such as the four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa) which he established (1909) as the first conclusive example of extrachromosomal, or cytoplasmic, inheritance (cases in which certain characteristics of the progeny are determined by factors in the cytoplasm of the female sex cell).
Florentino Ameghino (Born 19 Sep 1853; died 6 Aug 1911). Argentine paleontologist and anthropologist who made significant contributions to the field of vertebrate paleontology and established the Pampas region of Argentina as a rich source of fossils. He discovered over 6,000 fossil species and classified 35 suborders of mammals. Ameghino’s controversial discoveries of stone implements, carved bones, and other signs of a human presence in Argentina during the Pliocene, Miocene, and earlier periods served to increase his worldwide fame.
David Starr Jordan (Died 19 Sep 1931; born 19 Jan 1851). American naturalist, educator, and the foremost American ichthyologist of his time. Jordan was a renowned expert in many fields. For example, he served as an expert witness on the validity of the theory of evolution at the Scopes trial in Tennessee. He was known for his work in education, philosophy, and as a peace activist. He often approached the subject of peace from a biological angle, arguing that war was detrimental to the health of the species because it removed the strongest individuals from the gene pool. Although he campaigned vigorously against US involvement in World War I, once war was declared, he advocated aggressive measures to end the conflict quickly.
Francis Darwin (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 16 Aug 1849). English botanist who was the third son of Charles Darwin, and published the results of his collaboration with his father in the publication of The Movement of Plants (1880).
Georg August Schweinfurth (Died 19 Sep 1925; born 29 Dec 1836). German botanist who travelled in the interior of East Africa (from 1868) and studied the inhabitants together with the flora and fauna of the region. During this journey, in Mar 1870, he discovered the River Welle (Uele), explored the upper Nile basin, and charted the western feeders of the White Nile. He wrote about the cannibalistic practices of the Mangbettu, and his discovery of the pygmy Akka confirmed the existence of dwarf races in tropical Africa (The Heart of Africa, 1873). During 1875-88, he lived in Cairo, where he founded the Royal Geographical Society of Egypt. He made historical, geological, ethnographical and botanical investigations ranging from there to the Arabian desert.
Giacomo Doria (Died 19 Sep 1913; born 1 Nov 1840). Italian naturalist and explorer who conducted important research in systematic zoology. Pursuing his work, he made expeditions to Persia (1862), Borneo (1865-66) and Tunisia (1879). In 1867, he founded the civic museum of natural history in Genoa. The collection he donated became the nucleus of the museum, which he directed for more than 40 years. He was also director of Societa Geografica Italiana (1891-1900). The museum he founded now contains important zoolological, paleontological, botanical, and mineralogical collections from all over the world. These collections are continually growing, now estimated to be more than 3.5 million exhibits.
Olof Swartz (Died 19 Sep 1818: born 21 Sep 1760). Swedish botanist who left a legacy of a collection of plants from his botanical tours of the West Indies, Jamaica, North America, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba between 1783-87. On his return, he described nearly 900 species, most of them new, in Flora Indiae occidentalis (3 vols., 1797-1806). The Swedish Museum of Natural History now holds the collection, about 6000 specimens of phanerogams and ferns, mostly from the West Indies. It is a part of their Regnellian herbarium. He is also noted for his taxonomic studies of specific plant groups, including orchids, mosses and especially ferns. He also published Nova Genera et Species Plantarum seu Prodromus (1788) and Observationes botanicae (1791).
Francis Simpson (Born 15 Sep 1912; died 10 Nov 2003). Francis William Simpson was an English naturalist, conservationist and chronicler of the countryside and wild flowers of his native Suffolk. His love of nature began in school, when one of his teachers gave him a flora, a descriptive list of the region’s plants. He became a botanist at Ipswich Museum, where he worked until his retirement in 1977. In 1938, he saved a small meadow, famous for its snakeshead fritillaries, from being drained and ploughed into farmland. Using donations amounting to £75, he was able to purchase the field, Mickfield Meadow, for the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves. Today, it is one of the oldest nature reserves in the country, protecting the meadow flowers in this small area now surrounded by farmland.
Frank Eugene Lutz (Born 15 Sep 1879; died 27 Nov 1943). American entomologist, museum curator, educator, conservationist, and writer who was probably the leading U.S. entomologist of the first half of the twentieth century. He who taught that insects were an integral part of the environment. As a boy, his fascination as a boy watching a caterpillar shedding its skin developed into a lifelong interest in insects. In 1909, he joined the American Museum of Natural History and became (1921) the first curator of the newly created Department of Entomology, where he remained for the rest of life. He created popular museum exhibits, including the first insect dioramas and “insect zoos” featuring live specimens. In the 1920s, established the country’s first guided nature trail in Harriman State Park, New York.
Wilhelm Roux (Died 15 Sep 1924; born 9 June 1850). German zoologist who was a founder of experimental embryology, by which he studied how organs and tissues are assigned their structural form and functions at the time of fertilization. In the 1880s, he experimented with frog eggs. He thought that mitotic cell division of the fertilized egg is the mechanism by which future parts of a developing organism are determined. He destroyed one of the two initial subdivisions (blastomeres) of a fertilized frog egg, obtaining half an embryo from the remaining blastomere. It seemed to him that determination of future parts and functions had already occurred in the two-cell stage and that each of the two blastomeres had already received the determinants necessary to form half the embryo. His theory was later negated by Hans Driesch.
From Today in Science History:
G. Brown Goode (Died 6 Sep 1896; born 13 Feb 1851). G(eorge) Brown Goode was an American zoologist who directed the scientific reorganization and recataloging of the collection at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. During the 1880’s he edited two volumes of atlases of illustrations of The Fisheries and Fisheries Industries of the United States while Deputy Commissioner of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries. The study captured the state of the American fisheries at that time. They describe a significant part of the marine environment with 532 etchings of marine mammals, fish, and shellfish and also illustrated the state of fishing vessels, gear, methods, and processing.
From Today in Science History:
The Smithsonian Institution In 1846, an Act of Congress signed by President James K. Polk established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to administer the generous bequest of James Smithson, an amount over $500,000. In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist, drew up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulated that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he would in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” The motives behind Smithson’s bequest remain mysterious; he had never traveled to the U.S. and seems to have had no correspondence with anyone there.
My grandfather would have been 89 years old this day. A World War II veteran, amateur geologist, gardener, metal-detector, interested in butterflies , and 60 minutes-watching man, I wish I would have spent more time with him before he passed away in 2002 from pancreatic cancer. He could have taught me things, but I was too busy hanging out with my friends, going to amusement parks, and watching movies. I have two large storage containers full of rocks, magazine clippings, an old microscope and accessories I inherited after he died (also in there, this Life issue and the 1942 National Geographic issue with Charles R. Knight‘s “Parade of Life through the Ages”) out in my storage shed – I’ll get to going through it in the future. Here are two pictures of him on my photo site.
From Today in Science History:
Jacques-Yves Cousteau (Born 11 Jun 1910; died 25 Jun 1997). French naval officer, oceanographer, marine biologist and ocean explorer, known for his extensive underseas investigations. He was co-inventor of the aqualung which made SCUBA diving possible (1943). Cousteau the developed the Conshelf series of manned habitats, the Diving Saucer, a process of underwater television and numerous other platforms and specialized instruments of ocean science. In 1945 he founded the French Navy’s Undersea Research Group. He modified a WWII wooden hull minesweeper into the research vessel Calypso, in 1950. An observation dome added to the foot of Calypso‘s bow was found to increase the ship’s stability, speed and fuel efficiency.
Mary Jane Rathbun (Born 11 Jun 1860; died 4 Apr 1943). American marine zoologist known for establishing the basic taxonomic information on Crustacea. For many years she was the Smithsonian’s complete department of marine invertebrates where she studied, cataloged, and preserved specimens. Through her basic studies and published works, she fixed the nomenclature of Crustacea and was the recognized, and the much sought after, authority in zoology and carcinology (thestudy of crustacea). When the department needed an assistant, she resigned as superintendent and used her salary to hire someone. She continued to work without pay as a dedicated volunteer carcinologist. She published over 160 papers on a wide variety of scientific subjects.
Leland Ossian Howard (Born 11 Jun 1857; died 1 May 1950). American entomologist noted for pioneering efforts in applied entomology and his experiments in the biological control of harmful insects. He is regarded as the founder of agricultural and medical entomology. He proposed that natural enemies rather than pesticides be used for controlling pests. Howard was head of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for over 30 years. He described 20 new species of mosquitoes, and 47 new groups of parasitic wasps. Howard revealed that houseflies carry and transmit many diseases. He was the first to suggest covering standing water with oil to control egg-laying by mosquitoes and kill larvae to reduce disease transmission. His work led to belief that great natural balances are mainly due to the action of the parasites.
Alfred Newton (Born 11 Jun 1829; died 7 Jun 1907). British zoologist, one of the foremost ornithologists of his day. In 1866, he was appointed the first Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge University. Despite the fact that he suffered from diseased hip joints and walked with the aid of two sticks, he traveled throughout Lapland, Iceland, the West Indies, and North America 1854-63. During these expeditions he studied ornithology and became particularly interested in the great auk. He was instrumental in having the first Acts of parliament passed for the protection of birds. He wrote a great deal on the subject, including a 4-volume Dictionary of Birds, and the articles on Ornithology in several 19th century editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Roger Bacon (Died 11 Jun 1292; born c.1219). English scholar who was one of the first to propose mathematics and experimentation as appropriate methods of science. He studied mathematics, astronomy, optics, alchemy, and languages. He elucidated the principles of refraction, reflection, and spherical aberration, and described spectacles, which soon thereafter came into use. He developed many mathematical results concerning lenses, proposed mechanically propelled ships, carriages, and flying machines, and used a camera obscura to observe eclipses of the Sun. Bacon was the first European give a detailed description of the process of making gunpowder.