The conviction, put forward by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, that acquired traits can become inherited. The use or disuse of organs is what causes them to develop and degenerate.

Etienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire, on the other hand, maintained that evolution happens by the processes of random variation and natural selection. Eventually, owing to the works of Charles Darwin and many others, this view gained widespread acceptance.

Lamarckism is an explanation for the phenomenon of evolution older than Darwinism, and was conceived by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarck wrongly concluded that the phenotypic properties of an organism and their interaction with the environment can be directly inherited. In particular, Lamarck postulated the inheritance of acquired properties.

La"marck"ism (?), n. [From Lamarck, a distinguished French naturalist.] Biol.

The theory that structural variations, characteristic of species and genera, are produced in animals and plants by the direct influence of physical environments, and esp., in the case of animals, by effort, or by use or disuse of certain organs.


© Webster 1913.

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