Research paper

The variety of attitudes among palaeontologists faced with evolution (1840-1870)

Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, UMR 7207 CR2P, Case Postale 38, Département d’Histoire de la Terre, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 8, rue Buffon, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.
Corresponding author


A variety of attitudes existed among paleontologists faced with evolution, or transformism, in 1840-1870. D’Orbigny, forcefully contributing to stratigraphy, was a catastrophist mand a natural creationist. Brongniart, also catastrophist, had a more religious blend of creationism. D’Omalius d’Halloy and Gérard were explicitely transformists before Darwin, the former being religious and the latter not. Bronn and d’Archiac had a continuous view of the history of life, yet were not transformists, for scientific reasons. Gaudry became an enthusiastic evolutionist and was religious. Their different philosophico-religious opinions reveal that, in their varied attitudes toward transformism, scientific considerations were far more important than anything else; philosophical considerations played a role, and religious choices had little influence.

Keywords: History of palaeontology, evolution, creation, fossil record.

How to cite: Godinot, M. 2012. The variety of attitudes among palaeontologists faced with evolution (1840-1870). Spanish Journal of Palaeontology, 27 (2), 143-158.

Received 30 April 2012, Accepted 17 September 2012, Published 31 December 2012