Lamarckian theory of evolution

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Lamarckian theory of evolution was proposed by French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck)[1].

This was one of the first theories that tried to explain the diversity of life based on naturalistic forces; as a scientific theory, it made predictions, and the failure to make accurate predictions make it a falsified scientific theory[2],

Lamarck proposed that organisms' efforts to adapt to the environment can be accumulated and passed on to their offspring. Species evolved when traits acquired during life were passed from one generation to the next. For example, the ancestor of the giraffe was a short-necked herbivor, whose ancestors slowly forced their necks to grow to reach higher and higher trees[1].

This is called, in biology, inheritance of acquired characteristics. Since no such inheritance has been observed since Lamarck proposed it, this theory was discarded, and replaced by Darwin's inheritance of inborn characteristics, proposed 40 years after Lamarck[1].

In his book The Origin of Species, Darwin spoke favorably of the Lamarckian theory of evolution. However since the publication of Darwin's theory of natural selection and because of the lack of evidence for Lamarckian evolution in macrobiology, most biologists today favor an update of the Darwinian theory of evolution as the explanation for how human was evolved.

Despite all proofs and evidences against Lamarckianism, this theory became the official scientific theory in the Soviet Union, sponsored by russian agronomist Trofim Denisovitch Lisenko, during the reigns of Stalin and Khruchtchev[3][4].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pangenesis: use and disuse, site
  2. Can the theory of evolution be falsified?, article by Paul A. M. van Dongen and Jo M. H. Vossen
  3. O Caso Lisenko by G.F. Sacarrão (in Portuguese)
  4. Darwin and the search for an evolutionary mechanism, site
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