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ESP Timelines

Comparative Timelines

The ESP Timeline (one of the site's most popular features) has been completely updated to allow the user to select (using the timeline controls above each column) different topics for the left and right sides of the display.

Select:

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1540

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1738

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1742

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1748

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1749

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1750

image Carolus Linnaeus's Philosophia Botanica rejects any notion of evolution and continues his work in classifying plants.

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1751

image Linnaeus's Species Plantarum completes his development of the use of binary nomenclature in botany. The work still provides the foundation for the modern classification of species.

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1752

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1753

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1759

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1760

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1761

Jean-Baptiste Robinet's five-volume De la nature claims that organic species form a linear scale of progress, without gaps.

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1762

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1763

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1767

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1769

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1770

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1771

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1772

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1773

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1774

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1778

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1779

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1780

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1786

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1787

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1788

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1789

image Johann Wolfgang Goethe's Versuch, die Metamorphose der Pflanzen zu erklären (Attempt to explain the metamorphosis of plants) claims incorrectly that all plant structures are modified leaves, but clearly espouses evolution.

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1790

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1791

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1792

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1793

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1794

image Erasmus Darwin (Charles' grandfather) publishes Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life.

James Hutton publishes An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge. Buried in the 2,138-page philosophical tome is a chapter about variety in nature in which Hutton anticipates Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.

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1795

image James Hutton's Theory of the Earth published, interpreting certain geological strata as former sea beds. Hutton proposes geological theory of gradualism.

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1796

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1797

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1798

image Publication of Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population, a work that Darwin asserted helped him frame the principle of evolution by natural selection.

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1799

image The first mammoth fossil fully documented by modern science is discovered near the delta of the Lena River in 1799 by Ossip Schumachov, a Siberian hunter. Schumachov allows it to thaw (a process taking several years) until he can retrieve the tusks for sale to the ivory trade in Yakutsk. He then abandons the specimen, allowing it to decay before its recovery. In 1806, Russian botanist Mikhail Adams rescues what remained of the specimen and brought it to the Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. The specimen, which became known as the Adams Mammoth, is stuffed and mounted, and continues to be on display at the Zoological Institute.

Charles White publishes An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man, and in Different Animals and Vegetables, a treatise on the great chain of being, showing people of color at the bottom of the human chain.

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1800

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1801

image Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's Système de Animaux sans Vertèbres (System for Animals without Vertebrae) includes a classification system for invertebrates and a preliminary view of his ideas of evolution.

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1802

In Natural Theology, William Paley uses the analogy of a watch requiring a watchmaker to argue that the universe implies an intelligent designer.

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1803

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1804

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1805

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1806

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1807

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1808

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1809

image 12 Feb 1809

Charles Darwin is born

image Jean Baptiste de Lamarck's theory of evolution presented with the publication of his Philosophie Zoologique, which emphasized the fundamental unity of life and the capacity of species to vary.

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1810

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1811

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1812

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1813

image Swiss-French botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle introduces the word TAXONOMY in his lifelong project of a 21-volume plant encyclopedia. Seven volumes are published during his lifetime, the remainder after his death.

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1814

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1815

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1816

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1817

image Georges Cuvier's Le règne animal distribué d'après son organisation (The animal kingdom, distributed according to its organization) gives an account of the whole animal kingdom, dividing it into four distinct groups.

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1818

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1819

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1820

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1821

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1822

Etienne Geoffroy publishes Anatomical Philosophy discussing similarities between skeletal structures — such as bat wings, paws and hands — that support the evolutionary claims of Lamarck. He also argues that arthropods and vertebrates have similar but inverse body plans, an assertion that will ultimately be widely accepted.

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1823

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1824

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1825

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image The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper, is published.

1826

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1827

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1828

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1829

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1830

image Charles Lyell's multi-volume Principles of Geology appear (between 1830 amd 1833), advancing the theory of uniformitarianism, i.e., the view that geological formations are explainable in terms of forces and conditions observable at present.

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1831

image Charles Darwin joins the crew of the HMS Beagle as the ship's naturalist. The Beagle plans a two-year voyage to map the coast of South America. This turns out to be a five-year trip.

Patrick Matthew publishes On Naval Timber and Arboriculture with an appendix describing what Charles Darwin will later name natural selection. After becoming aware of Matthew's hypothesis, Darwin will acknowledge it in a reprint of On the Origin of Species.

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1832

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1833

image The first volume of the five-volume Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (Researches on Fossil Fishes) by Jean-Louis-Rodolphe Agassiz is published.

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1834

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1835

image While serving as scientific officer on the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin visits the Galapagos Islands. He observes that the many varieties of finches on the islands seem to have developed from a common ancestor found on the mainland of South America.

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1836

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image Twice-told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is published and is an immediate best-seller.

1837

Charles Darwin formulates the theory of natural selection to explain evolution. Fearful of the reaction his theory will cause, he delays publishing.

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1838

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image Voices of the Night, the first book of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), is published.

1839

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1840

image Charles Darwin's Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle appears.

image Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) [essay II in Essays: First Series] is published.

image The first novel in the series called "Leatherstocking Tales", The Deerslayer, by James Fennimore Cooper (1789-1851), is published

1841

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image In May, Edgar Allan Poe's (1809-1849) story "The Masque of the Red Death" appears in Graham's Magazine.

1842

image Charles Darwin's book The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, is published. During the year Darwin composes an abstract of his theory of species evolution.

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1843

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1844

image Charles Darwin first outlines his thoughts on natural selection in an unpublished essay.

image Robert Chambers, a Scottish journalist, publishes (anonymously) his Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, an early book outlining an evolutionary view of the natural world.

image The second part of the Geology of the Beagle, Charles Darwin's Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, is published. Darwin's book claims to supply evidence for the geological theories of Charles Lyell (1797-1875), from areas that Lyell himself had never seen.

image Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" appears in the New York Evening Mirror. Poe's collection The Raven and Other Poems is published.

1845

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1846

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1847

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1848

image On the archetype and homologies of the vertebrate skeleton, by Richard Owen (1804-1892), is published. In the book Owen argues that the skull, and other parts of the body, are formed by the modification of the vertebra of different animals.

Richard Owen describes "homologies" — similarities of design in bird wings, fish fins and human hands.

image Henry David Thoreau's A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and "Resistance to Civil Government" (often referred to as "Civil Disobedience") are published.

1849

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1850

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image Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables and The Snow Image and Other Twice-Told Tales both appear.

image Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is published.

1851

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image Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes her anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

1852

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1853

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image Henry David Thoreau's Walden, or Life in the Woods is published.

1854

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image Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" appears.

image Poet Walt Whitman publishes a volume of twelve poems, Leaves of Grass, at his own expense, and meets with no commercial success.

1855

image Alfred Russel Wallace publishes "On the Law which has Regulated the Introduction of New Species," anticipating Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

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1856

image The remains of the first known example of what come to be known as the "Neanderthals" is found in a cave near Düsseldorf, in the Neander Valley. The discovery was made by limestone quarry miners and consists of a skullcap, two femora, the three right arm bones, two of the left arm bones, ilium, and fragments of a scapula and ribs. The fossils were given to Johann Carl Fuhlrott, a local teacher and amateur naturalist. The first description of the remains was made by anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen and the find was announced jointly in 1857.In 1997, the specimen was the first to yield Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA fragments. The description of this discovery represents the beginning of paleoanthropology as a scientific discipline.

Louis Agassiz publishes Essay on Classification advocating a theory of multiple creations and contradicting both evolution and Noah's ark.

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1857

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1858

image Alfred Russel Wallace sends to Darwin a manuscript — "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type" — that shows clearly that Wallace has independently formulated a model of evolution by natural selection.

image image Darwin's and Wallace's ideas are jointly presented to the Linnaean Society of London.

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1859

image Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.

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1860

image Louis Agassiz attacks Darwin's the origin of species, rejecting the idea of evolution of the species and arguing that each species was created separately.

image Thomas Henry Huxley (sometimes known as Darwin's bulldog) clashes with Bishop "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce about evolution at the annual meeting of The British Association for the Advancement of Science, in what has come to be known as the Huxley-Wilberforce debate.

Bishop Wilberforce is supposed to have asked Huxley sarcastically whether "it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed descent from a monkey." Huxley responded, "If then the question is put to me whether I would rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape." Or words to that effect.

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1861

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1862

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1863

Alfred Russel Wallace describes the "Wallace line," the dividing line between Indo-Malayan and Austro-Malayan fauna, in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London.

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1864

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1865

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1866

German zoologist Ernst Haeckel publishes General Morphology of Organisms, the first detailed genealogical tree relating all known organisms, incorporating the principles of Darwinian evolution.

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1867

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image Louisa May Alcott publishes Little Women.

1868

image Charles Darwin publishes The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, in which he offers his own theory of heredity, which he called the "Provisional Hypothesis of Pangenesis."

Ernst Haeckel publishes Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, subdividing humanity into 12 separate species. He also asserts that evolution consists of 22 phases, the 21st being the "missing link" between apes and humans.

Thomas Henry Huxley publishes "On the Animals which are Most Nearly Intermediate between Birds and Reptiles," arguing that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. This suggestion will not be taken very seriously for another century.

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1869

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1870

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1871

image Publication of Charles Darwin's Descent of Man, in which the role of sexual selection in evolution is described for the first time.

Lord Kelvin suggests that "the germs of life might have been brought to the Earth by some meteorite," an idea that will enjoy support a century later.

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1872

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1873

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1874

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1875

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image Mark Twain publishes Tom Sawyer.

1876

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1877

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1878

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1879

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1880

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1881

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1882

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1883

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1884

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1885

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1886

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1887

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1888

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1889

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1890

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1891

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1892

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1893

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1894

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1895

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1896

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1897

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1898

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1899

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1900

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1901

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1902

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1903

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1904

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1905

K. S. Merezhkovsky suggests that chloroplasts originated as a cyanobacterium swallowed by a protozoan, i.e., algal and plant cells result from two independent organisms that became symbionts. The idea will be largely forgotten until it is suggested again in the 1960s.

image Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle.

1906

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1907

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1908

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1909

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1910

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1911

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1912

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1913

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1914

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1915

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1916

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1917

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1918

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1919

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1920

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1921

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1922

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1923

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1924

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1925

Tennessee schoolteacher John Thomas Scopes is tried for teaching evolution in the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial." Two-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan leads the prosecution. Labor lawyer Clarence Darrow leads the defense and goads Bryan into declaring that humans are not mammals. The conviction will be overturned on a technicality, and the anti-evolution law will remain on the books for decades.

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1926

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1927

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1928

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1929

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1930

image R. A. Fisher publishes Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, a formal analysis of the mathematics of selection.

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1931

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1932

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1933

Robert Broom publishes The Coming of Man: Was it Accident or Design? arguing that evolution is really driven by spiritual agencies, some with conflicting priorities, and that mankind is the ultimate aim of all evolution.

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1934

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1935

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1937

T. Dobzhansky publishes Genetics and the Origin of Species — a milestone in evolutionary genetics.

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1938

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1939

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1940

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1941

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1942

Ernst Mayr publishes Systematics and the Origin of Species, and Julian Huxley publishes Evolution: The Modern Synthesis. Both books are significant contributions to the neo darwinian synthesis combining elements of natural selection, genetics, mutation, population biology and paleontology.

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1943

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1944

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1945

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1946

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1947

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1948

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1950

At a Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, Ernst Mayr argues that all hominid specimens so far found should be categorized in the genus Homo: H. transvaalensis, H. erectus, and H. sapiens.

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1951

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image Ralph Ellison publishes Invisible Man.

1952

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1953

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1955

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1956

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1957

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1958

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1959

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1960

Alister Hardy promotes his Homo aquaticus or "aquatic ape" hypothesis to the British Sub Aqua Club. He will follow up this announcement with several magazine articles.

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1961

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1962

Human geneticist James Neel develops the "thrifty genotype" hypothesis that human ancestors endured feast-famine cycles that made the human body very effective in storing fat for lean times.

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1963

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1964

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1965

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1966

Willi Hennig works on a new approach to assessing evolutionary relationships, known as cladistics. Although it will be hotly debated, this technique will eventually become standard practice in paleontology, botany and zoology.

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1967

Lynn Sagan (later Lynn Margulis) hypothesizes that chloroplasts originated as cyanobacteria, and that mitochondria originated as bacteria. She suggests that both were engulfed by other cells and began functioning as symbionts.

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1968

A.G. Cairns-Smith publishes a paper suggesting that the first life on Earth might have been fine-grained clay crystals. He will publish on this topic several more times before his death, but the experimental evidence will remain scant, perhaps in part because sufficient technology doesn't yet exist to test the hypothesis.

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1969

R. H. Whittaker proposes to divide all living things into five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista and Monera.

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1970

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1971

Five pairs of adult wall lizards are moved between two islands in Croatia. Over the next few decades, the lizards on the new island will evolve larger heads, stronger bites, and a greater tolerance for an herbivorous diet than the original lizard population.

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1972

Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge publish their theory of punctuated equilibrium, stating that evolution often occurs in short bursts, followed by long periods of stability.

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1973

Half in jest, Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggest that ancient aliens may have seeded the early Earth with DNA, and all life on this planet arose from that.

Peter and Rosemary Grant begin a long-term study of finches on the Galápagos Islands. In succeeding years, as they watch finches adapt to alternating wet and dry conditions, the Grants will uncover evidence that evolution proceeds more rapidly than what Darwin estimated.

Taking a line from Through the Looking Glass, Leigh Van Valen establishes the "Red Queen" hypothesis of coevolution between predator and prey: "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

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1974

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1975

Mary-Claire King and Allan Wilson publish their finding that human and chimpanzee DNA sequences differ by roughly 1 percent, meaning humans have more in common with chimps than chimps do with gorillas. King and Wilson suggest that humans and chimps differ largely in the DNA that switches on and off genes.

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1976

Overturning the classifications introduced by R. H. Whittaker seven years earlier, Carl Woese proposes to divide all living things into three categories: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya.

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1977

Submersible vehicle Alvin reveals deep sea vents on the ocean floor that give rise to an ecosystem owing nothing to photosynthesis. This finding prompts speculation that life on Earth first arose in deep-sea, not shallow-water, ecosystems.

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1978

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1979

image Fresh out of law school and short on cash, Robert Heggestad buys an antique cabinet on an installment plan from a Virginia antique shop. The cabinet turns out to contain some 1,700 plant and invertebrate specimens from the personal collection of Alfred Russel Wallace.

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1980

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1981

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1982

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1983

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1984

David Raup and Jack Sepkoski publish the controversial claim that mass extinctions are regularly spaced at 26 million years.

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1985

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1986

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1987

Allan Wilson and Rebecca Cann announce that all humans share a common ancestor who lived in Africa as recently as 150,000 years ago. Because the discovery is based on examination of mitochondrial DNA, the ancestral entity will be given the popular (and somewhat misleading) name of "Mitochondrial Eve." The controversial finding will be supported by another discovery in 2000.

(no entry for this year)

1988

Molecular biologist John Cairns describes experiments suggesting that bacteria facing environmental stress can "direct" their mutations to produce favorable adaptations. Directed mutation will remain a controversial idea, but the possibility that organisms mutate at a greater rate (hypermutation) under environmental stress will gain more acceptance.

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1989

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1990

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1991

Chicxulub crater is discovered in the Yucatán Peninsula, supporting the asteroid impact theory first suggested in 1980.

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1992

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1994

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1995

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1996

Using "molecular clock" estimates of mutation rates, Greg Wray and collaborators hypothesize that metazoan phyla diverged from each other 1 billion years ago, or even earlier. In other words, they argue that metazoans existed hundreds of millions of years before the earliest metazoan fossils (about 600 million years old) yet found.

(no entry for this year)

1997

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1998

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1999

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2000

Based on studies of Y chromosomes, Peter Underhill publishes his finding that all modern humans share a common ancestor, bolstering the 1987 announcement from Cann and Wilson. This suggests a "bottleneck" event (population crash) among human ancestors living in Africa roughly 150,000 years ago.

Sally McBearty and Alison Brooks publish "The Revolution that Wasn't" challenging the long-held notion of a "big bang" in human intellectual evolution approximately 40,000 years ago. Instead, they cite evidence for earlier appearances of modern behavior.

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2001

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2002

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2003

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2004

Peter Brown, Mike Morwood and collaborators announce the find of a 1-meter-tall hominid skeleton on the Indonesian island of Flores. Found near the remains of giant lizards and pygmy elephants, the new species is formally named Homo floresiensis and nicknamed the "hobbit." Though some suspect it's a kind of malformed, small-brained midget, this interpretation will be answered by braincase scans, wrist bones too primitive to be Homo sapiens, and the announcement of several more individuals of the same species. Later studies will suggest direct ancestry from Homo erectus, although another study will argue the remains really indicate Down syndrome. The species is initially given an estimated age as young as 11,000 years, but later research will indicate an age of at least 50,000 years.

(no entry for this year)

2005

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2006

Jean Moliner, Gerhard Ries, Cyril Zipfel and Barbara Hohn publish their findings on stressed plants that not only mutate at a greater rate, but also pass an increased mutation tendency to their offspring.

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2007

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2008

After studying grunting fish, Andrew Bass and colleagues report that the part of the brain controlling volcalization is extremely primitive, and propose that vertebrates evolved the ability to communicate through sound some 400 million years ago.

(no entry for this year)

2009

Gabriele Gentile and colleagues describe a previously overlooked pink iguana, referred to as "rosada," on the Galápagos Islands. The pink lizard species may represent the earliest divergence of land animals on the island chain that Charles Darwin made famous.

(no entry for this year)

2010

Ryan Kerney announces the discovery of algae (Oophila amblystomatis) living inside spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) embryo cells — the first discovery of a photosynthetic symbiont living inside vertebrate cells.

(no entry for this year)

2011

Two studies released in the same week indicate that modern Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians descended from an earlier migration out of Africa than did other populations. Further, the studies suggest that participants in the earlier migration interbred with Denisovans.

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2012

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2013

Based on new genetic research, David Reich, Svante Pääbo and collaborators announce at a Royal Society of London meeting that Denisovans bred with Neanderthals, ancestors of people now living in East Asia and Oceania, and another group of extinct archaic humans who were genetically dissimilar to both Neanderthals and modern humans. A few weeks later, Matthias Meyer, Svante Pääbo and coauthors describe the oldest hominin DNA sequence to date, from a 400,000-year-old femur from Spain's Sima de los Huesos. The mitochondrial DNA indicate an unexpected link to Denisovans.

Using genetic material from more than 300 individuals, including aboriginal Australians from the Northern Territory, a team of geneticists argues that Australians — long believed isolated from other populations for some 45,000 years — received substantial gene flow from India about 4,230 years ago.

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2014

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2015

Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, Arhat Abzhanov and colleagues announce that they have reverse engineered dinosaur snouts in chicken embryos by altering beak-building gene expressions.

Stephen Hackley publishes a review article arguing that human brains retain vestigial neural circuitry, the same circuitry that currently allows other mammals (and once allowed our ancient ancestors) to orient their ears toward novel stimuli.

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2016

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2017

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2018

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2019

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ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.

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Timeline

The new, dynamic Timeline from the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project gives users more control over the timeline display.

We seek your suggestions for timeline content, both for individual events and for entire subjects.

To submit a correction or a recommendation or to propose new Timeline content (or to volunteer as a Timeline Editor), click HERE.

The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project needs help: with acquiring content, with writing, with editing, with graphic production, and with financial support.

CLICK HERE to see what ESP needs most.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 06 MAR 2017 )