2011 – What Would Have Happened if Darwin Had Known Mendel (or Mendel’s Work)?

  • “What Would Have Happened if Darwin Had Known Mendel (or Mendel’s Work)?”, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (2011): 3-48.

Abstract

The question posed by the title is usually answered by saying that the “synthesis” between the theory of evolution by natural selection and classical genetics, which took place in 1930s-40s, would have taken place much earlier if Darwin had been aware of Mendel and his work. What is more, it nearly happened: it would have been enough if Darwin had cut the pages of the offprint of Mendel’s work that was in his library and read them! Or, if Mendel had come across Darwin in London or paid him a visit at his house in the outskirts! (on occasion of Mendel’s trip in 1862 to that city). The aim of the present paper is to provide elements for quite a different answer, based on further historical evidence, especially on Mendel’s works, some of which mention Darwins’s studies.

Keywords – Darwin, Mendel, hybridism, speciation, evolution

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