Evolution has been defined by many scientists, but the most notable one was Charles Darwin who formulated the famous evolutionary theory, and therefore referred to as the father of evolution. However, it is worth noting that even before Darwin, there were other theorists and scientists who had dwelt on the idea and whose thoughts could be integrated with those of Darwin to better understand the evolution. Some of these are discussed below.
Robert Hooke (1635-1703) started on the scientific note. He came up with a microscope with which he could observe some of the smallest creatures, and was the first man to observe and draw the cork cells. He is often referred to as the one who discovered the plant cells. Through his book the Micrographia, Hooke explains that fossils that were discovered on the earth were not nature tricks, but rather the remains of once living organisms (Berkeley.edu, 1). He therefore concluded that some species could have become extinct in the course of time. Darwin could use this observation to determine whether the animals became extinct or simply changed form.
Nicolas Steno (Berkeley.edu, 5) observes came up with the Steno’s law of superposition. Being a geologist, he argued that the lowest layers were the oldest while the top were the youngest. Though this faced some criticism, it could help later researchers like Darwin to tell the approximate ages of some fossils depending on how deep in the ground they were.
Berkeley.edu (3) observes that Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) came quite close to the Darwinian Theory. He argued that nature depended on time and the favorable conditions to design the various occurrences of nature. He argued that the organisms were not changed by the environment, but were forced to change their behaviors so as to adapt to the changes in the environment. The organisms therefore changed in nature and structure, and lost some features that were no longer useful. He also argued that the changes would be transferred from one generation to another. However, he disregarded the role of natural selection in the evolution. Being such a well developed theory, Darwin could borrow some ideas from it in coming up with his theory, and he actually did by borrowing some aspects such as the origin of species.
Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) came closest to the Darwinian Theory, given that Darwin actually expanded his ideas. He argued that the organisms emerged from a single filament of life, and the differentiation occurred due to factors such as competition and natural selection. He introduced the integrated knowledge where many fields could be merged to come up with one conclusion. Charles Darwin, his grandson, just built on these ideas and came up with his theory.
Conservapedia (1) defines evolution as a process of gradual change that takes place over many generations, during which species of animals, plants or insects slowly change some of their physical characteristics. This is the kind of evolution explained by Darwin. However, evolution can also be in a different sense. It can also be defined as a process of gradual development in a particular situation or thing over a period of time. As such, it can be applied in fields such as development of scientific concepts, medicine, architecture, art forms, among other life situations. All that has to be present is an indication that there is a gradual process of change.
Berkeley.edu. Robert Hooke, (1635-1703). 2011. Web, 1st Feb. 2012, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/hooke.html
Berkeley.edu. Nicholas Steno 91638-1686). 2011. Web, 1st Feb. 2012, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/steno.html
Berkeley.edu. Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829). 2011. Web, 1st Feb. 2012, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/lamarck.html
Berkeley.edu. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802). 2011. Web, 1st Feb. 2012, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/Edarwin.html
Conservapedia. Evolution. Web, 1st Feb 2012, http://conservapedia.com/Evolution