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The Sacred Ibis debate: The first test of evolution

Published on Sep 27, 2018in PLOS Biology8.386
· DOI :10.1371/journal.pbio.2005558
Caitlin Curtis6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Griffith University),
Craig D. Millar26
Estimated H-index: 26
(University of Auckland),
David M. Lambert39
Estimated H-index: 39
(Griffith University)
Abstract
In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte’s army invaded Egypt, returning with many treasures including large numbers of Sacred Ibis mummies. The ancient Egyptians revered the ibis and mummified literally millions of them. The French naturalist Georges Cuvier used these mummies to challenge an emerging idea of the time, namely Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of evolution. Cuvier detected no measurable differences between mummified Sacred Ibis and contemporary specimens of the same species. Consequently, he argued that this was evidence for the “fixity of species.” The “Sacred Ibis debate” predates the so-called “Great Debate” between Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species five decades later. Cuvier’s views and his study had a profound influence on the scientific and public perception of evolution, setting back the acceptance of evolutionary theory in Europe for decades.
  • References (11)
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References11
Newest
#1Sally Wasef (Griffith University)H-Index: 3
#2Rachel Wood (ANU: Australian National University)H-Index: 23
Last. David M. Lambert (Griffith University)H-Index: 39
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Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) were widespread in Egypt until the eighteenth century. Today the species is extinct in modern Egypt but millions of mummified specimens are scattered geographically in dedicated Ibis burial sites throughout the country. Ibises were regarded as physical manifestations of the god Thoth and worshiped by the ancient Egyptians. A small number of Sacred Ibis were chosen as ‘sacred animals’, based on physical markings, and were reared for the temples. However, the...
6 CitationsSource
#1Richard W. Burkhardt (UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)H-Index: 7
Scientists are not always remembered for the ideas they cherished most. In the case of the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, his name since the end of the nineteenth century has been tightly linked to the idea of the inheritance of acquired characters. This was indeed an idea that he endorsed, but he did not claim it as his own nor did he give it much thought. He took pride instead in advancing the ideas that (1) nature produced successively all the different forms of life on earth, and (2...
47 CitationsSource
#1Dan Graur (UH: University of Houston)H-Index: 49
#2Manolo Gouy (University of Lyon)H-Index: 53
Last. David Wool (TAU: Tel Aviv University)H-Index: 23
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Fifty years before On the Origin of Species, a confusing, tiresome and prescient book laid the foundations of modern evolutionary theory, write Dan Graur, Manolo Gouy and David Wool.
9 CitationsSource
ABSTRACT French naturalists at the Museum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris in the early nineteenth century recognized that their individual and collective successes were intimately linked to questions of power over specimens. France’s strength abroad affected the growth of the museum’s collections. At the museum, preserving, naming, classifying, displaying, interpreting, and otherwise deploying specimens went hand in hand with promoting scientific theories, advancing scientific careers, a...
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#1John D. RayH-Index: 1
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#1Salima IkramH-Index: 9
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32 CitationsSource
#1Christine El MahdyH-Index: 1
In this definitive book of the mummy and the Egyptian way of death, Christine El Mahdy reveals how to practice of mummification arose, how it was perfected, and how it came to play a central part in the ancient Egyptian quest for eternal life. In medieval times mummies were crushed to become aphrodisiacs; a hundred years ago the "unwrapping of a mummy from Egypt" was billed as an entertainment; and the twentieth century has created its own superstition in the fabled "Curse of the Pharaohs." Yet ...
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100 Citations
Lamarck's evolutionary theory, briefly mentioned in a lecture in 1800 and further developed in later writings, seems to have made little impression upon Lamarck's contemporaries. Several explanations for this lack of response, in addition to the usual unhelpful statements about the time not being "ripe," have been offered. Logically enough, these explanations for the most part have ascribed the poor reception of Lamarck's evolutionary theory to either the existence of hostile views dominating th...
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#1Arthur O. LovejoyH-Index: 14
This is arguably the seminal work in historical and philosophical analysis of the twentieth century. Originally delivered for the William James lecture series at Harvard University in 1932-33, it remains the cornerstone of the history of ideas. Lovejoy sees philosophy's history as one of confusion of ideas, a prime example of which is the idea of a "great chain of being" a universe linked in theology, science and values by pre-determined stages in all phases of life. Lovejoy's view is one of dua...
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#1Craig D. Millar (University of Auckland)H-Index: 26
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ABSTRACTGenomics and ancient DNA methods have revolutionized many areas of biology, including human evolution. Recently we have seen significant advances in archaeogenetics including the use of lar...
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