historical figures in evolution

Evolution in Darwin´s Lifetime: Thomas Huxley


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Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

Huxley was a self-taught English biologist, best known as Darwin’s Bulldog, because even when he was not fully convinced of the gradualism of evolution, in public he always was on Darwin´s side, no matter what. He was among the first to learn about Darwin’s theory, even before it was published. Huxley’s famous reaction to the idea of natural selection was to say: ” How extremely stupid not to have thought of that! He is well-known for coining the term agnostic, having been the first one to say that birds descended from dinosaurs, and for defending Darwin in his famous debate with Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford. Wilberforce attacked Huxley asking him to say whether he descended from an ape on his mother’s side or his father’s side.

The story goes that Huxley replied something like “I’d rather descend from an ape than from a man magnificently endowed by nature and influential, who uses his gifts to ridicule scientific discussion and to discredit those who humbly seek the truth.”

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