On the origin of a theory

June 13, 2008

"The only novelty in my work is the attempt to explain how species become modified," Darwin later wrote.


[W]e often act today as if Darwin invented the idea of evolution itself, including the theory that human beings developed from an ape ancestor.

In fact, scientists had been talking about our primate origins at least since 1699, after the London physician Edward Tyson dissected a chimpanzee and documented a disturbing likeness to human anatomy. And the idea of evolution had been around for generations.

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