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History of evolutionary thought
A timeline of important events in evolutionary biology:
610-546 BCE: Greek philosopher, astronomer and biologist Anaximander argues that all lifeforms evolved from fish in the seas and underwent modification once it established itself on land. Anaximander also believed in an early concept of abiogenesis which stated that primitive life on earth formed from mist.
570â€“480 BCE: The Greek philosopher and student of Anaximander Xenophanes developed Anaximander's theories further. Xenophanes was one of the first people in history to observe the fossil record and he concluded that most of the world was covered by water in the past by observing the fossil record.
1735: Linnaeus publishes the first edition of his Systema Naturae, the primary antecedent of the modern science of taxonomy. Linnaeus believed in an early concept of common descent, with all plants having evolved from a common ancestor but humans and animals having been directly created by God.
1770: Baron d'Holbach one of the first atheists in the Western world publishes The System of Nature which contains early evolutionary concepts such as the idea that humans evolved over the course of time and that every living thing changes in response to its environment.
1809: Jean-Baptiste Lamarck publishes his Philosophie Zoologique, one of the first systematic attempts at a theory of evolution. Although he did not believe all living things shared a common ancestor, he did believe they formed evolutionary gradients.
1813: Cuvier publishes An Essay on the Theory of the Earth, considered the first major breakthrough in biostratigraphy.
1831: Charles Darwin departs on his voyage on the Beagle.
1838: Charles Darwin formulates the theory of natural selection.
1854: Alfred Russel Wallace departs for the Malay Archipelago.
1858: Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace publish a joint paper on natural selection.
1859: Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. The printing sells out on the first day.
1861: The London Archaeopteryx specimen is discovered in Germany.
1867: Thomas H. Huxley publishes the first major classification of the class Aves since the work of Spencer Fullerton Baird (1858), using the morphology of the sternum and palatal configuration as key characters for understanding avian relationships.
1874: Alfred Henry Garrod publishes an extensive classification of birds using myology as his principal criterion for determining avian relationships.
Elliot B. Coues, one of the most influential of the early American ornithologists, publishes the classification of Aves which was to form the basis of the first checklist of the American Ornithologists' Union.
Richard Bowdler Sharpe begins work on his classic Catalogue of Birds in the British Museum, of which he ultimately authored 11 of its 27 volumes.
1877: The Berlin Archaeopteryx is described.
1879: Samuel Wendell Williston proposes the first explicit hypothesis for the terrestrial origin of flight in birds.
1880: O. C. Marsh publishes Odontornithes, one of the most gorgeous paleornithological monographs ever published, and a crucial work which forcibly argued for evolution in birds, by describing the discovery of taxa intermediate between the urvogel and modern birds.
1888: Furbinger publishes an extensive classification of extant Aves, setting the stage for the later work of Gadow and other ornithologists.
1922: The Third AMNH Asiatic Expedition sets out from Beijing.
1926: Gerhard Heilmann publishes his immortal classic, The Origin of Birds, arguing for the "thecodont" ancestry of birds. His work becomes canon for decades.
1932: The first remains of Ichthyostega stensioei, a stem-tetrapod from Greenland, are described by Save-Soderbergh.
1938: A South African schoolboy discovers Australopithecus robustus.
1942: Ernst Mayr publishes Systematics and the Origin of Species, the work which arguably secured the primacy of the Modern Synthesis, and restored the validity of allopatry as a mechanism of speciation.
1946: The first Soviet-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition begins.
1948: The second Soviet-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition begins.
1949: The third and final Soviet-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition concludes. All told, the three expeditions recovered some of the most crucial fossils of Dinosauria yet recovered.
1956: de Beer presents compelling evidence for the neotenic status of the paleognathous palate in a monographic treatment of ratite evolution.
1960: Homo habilis is discovered in Tanzania by the Leakeys. Initially, four specimens are recovered.
1969: Ostrom describes Deinonychus antirrhopus, sparking a revolution in dinosaur paleontology and single-handedly resurrecting the theropod origin of birds.
1970: Ostrom rediscovers the lost Haarlem urvogel.
1974: Bakker and Galton propose holophyly of Dinosauria, rekindling a notion discredited in the modernist consensus on archosaur phylogeny.
John Ostrom publishes the first of his magisterial reviews of the osteology and phylogeny of Archaeopteryx.
John Ostrom formulates the first coherent, post-modernist hypothesis for modeling the origin of birds, in a set of two publications.
1976: John Ostrom publishes yet another review of urvogel osteology and phylogeny, once more arguing the case for a theropod origin of birds. The 1974-76 papers form the basis for the rebirth of the theropod origin hypothesis.
1978: Repetski describes phosphatic fragments from Upper Cambrian strata, and attributes them to the ostracoderms, arguing that this lineage appeared in the late Cambrian, and not the Ordovician as previously thought.
Joel Cracraft presents the first major cladistic analysis of avian phylogeny.
1982: Storrs Olson, Curator of Birds at the Smithsonian Institute, sharply criticizes Cracraft's proposed phylogeny and urges caution in the use of cladistic methodology in analyzing avian relationships.
1984: The International Archaeopteryx Conference convenes in Eichstatt, Germany.
The Phylogenetic Species Concept is first elaborated.
1990: Coates and Clack describe Acanthostega gunnari, the most basal stem-tetrapod.
Walker publishes a masterful tome on Sphenosuchus and renews support for his 1972 hypothesis on a crocodile/bird nexus.
1992: Iberomesornis romerali, the celebrated enantiornithine from Las Hoyas, Spain, is described by Sanz & Bonaparte.
1995: The Confuciusornithidae is described by Hou et al, marking the discovery of the most basal avian, besides the urvogel.
1996: Alan Feduccia publishes the first edition of his tome, The Origin and Evolution of Birds, a vitriolic attack the theropod hypothesis which ignited a new wave of opposition thereto.
1997: The first "downy-dino", Sinosauropteryx prima is described.