The history of evolutionary thought has roots in antiquity. However, until the 18th century, Western biological thinking was dominated by essentialism, the belief that every species has essential characteristics that are fixed and unalterable. During the Enlightenment, naturalists began to focus on the variability of species; the emergence of paleontology with the concept of extinction further undermined the static view of nature. In the early 19th century, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed his theory of the transmutation of species, the first fully formed scientific theory of evolution. In 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace published a new evolutionary theory, which was explained in detail in Darwin's On the Origin of Species. The theory was based on the idea of natural selection. The synthesis of natural selection with Mendelian genetics during the 1920s and 1930s founded the new discipline of population genetics. The gene-centered view of evolution rose to prominence in the 1960s, followed by the neutral theory of molecular evolution, sparking debates over adaptationism, the units of selection, and the relative importance of genetic drift versus natural selection. In the late 20th century, DNA sequencing led to molecular phylogenetics and the reorganization of the tree of life into the three-domain system.

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Today's selected anniversaries:


James Oglethorpe founded the city of Savannah along with the Province of Georgia.


Led by General Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile formally proclaimed its independence from Spain.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States, was founded to work on behalf of the rights of African Americans.


Xinhai Revolution: Puyi (pictured), the last Emperor of China, abdicated under a deal brokered by military official and politician Yuan Shikai, formally replacing the Qing Dynasty with a new republic in China.


NASA's robotic space probe NEAR Shoemaker touched down on Eros, becoming one of the first spacecrafts to land on an asteroid.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

maugre (prep):
(obsolete) notwithstanding; in spite of

Wikiquote quote of the day:

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.   --Charles Darwin