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Letter from Lamarck

It’s a pity that I have to put this disclaimer up front, that I’m not a Lamarckist. The times we live in… sigh…
I got this letter today from a systems biologist, Dr. Denis Noble of Oxford. It’s a made up letter, but it makes a very relevant point, regarding the similarity between Darwin and Lamarck’s ideas, and how Lamarck has been given such a bad press. Some references might come as a shock to a few neo-Darwinists!

“On reading the amusing article ‘Why I hate epigenetics’ (Physiology News 77, Winter 2009, p. 43) Denis Noble dreamt that he was the Editor and had received the following letter, which he then translated into English for the benefit of readers of Physiology News:”

Letter from Lamarck (kindly click)

Notes by Denis Noble
1. In his introduction to Harvard’s republication in 1964 of The Origin of Species, Ernst Mayr wrote (pp. xxv–xxvi) “Curiously few evolutionists have noted that, in addition to natural selection, Darwin admits use and disuse as an important evolutionary mechanism. In this he is perfectly clear. For instance,… on page 137 he says that the reduced size of the eyes in moles and other burrowing mammals is ‘probably due to gradual reduction from disuse, but aided perhaps by natural selection’. In the case of cave animals, when speaking of the loss of eyes he says, ‘I attribute their loss wholly to disuse’ (p. 137). On page 455 he begins unequivocally, ‘At whatever period of life disuse or selection reduces an organ…’ The importance he gives to use or disuse is indicated by the frequency with which he invokes this agent of evolution in the Origin. I find references on pages 11, 43, 134, 135, 136, 137, 447, 454, 455, 472, 479, and 480.”

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