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Darwin and Linnaeus: Their Impact on Our View of the Natural World


NCSE's Executive Director Eugenie C. Scott

August 21, 2008
Hall of Chautauqua
Chautauqua Institution
Chautauqua, NY
101 years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, Carl Linnaeus was the first scientist to classify humans with other animals, placing them with apes and monkeys as Primates. Linnaeus, operating on the basis that God had specially created all plants and animals according to immutable “kinds”, nonetheless perceived that living things could be ordered in a hierarchical manner – a perception that led later scientists, including Darwin, to recognize that common ancestry could better explain these relationships than special creation. Darwin overthrew the Linnaean idea of static species in favor of “transmutation”, or descent with modification. We are still feeling the reverberations today.
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