Jean Baptiste de Lamarck was a French naturalist with great controversy to his name. Here are some key points on Lamarck's life and studies.

  • Born August 1, 1744, in Bazentin, France.
  • Youngest of eleven children, in a family of military service. His father and many of his brothers were soldiers.
  • Entered the Jesuit seminary at Amiens in 1756.
  • Joined the French Army in 1761, shortly after his father's death.
  • Left the army after an injury to work as a bank clerk and study medicine and botany.
  • Published Flore fran├žais (French Flora) in 1778.
  • Appointed assitant botanist at the King's Gardens in Paris, 1782.
  • Professor of invertebrates at the National Musem of Natural History. Coined the word "invertebrates", the study of insects and worms, creating a new field of biology.
  • Published a series of books on zoology and paleontology, until in 1809, Philosophie zoologique was published, stating most of his evolutionary theories.
  • Lamarck is well known for his theory of inheritance of acquired traits. He believed that a change in environment caused changes in the needs of the organisms living in that environment, which in turn caused changes to their behavior, and that these changes were inherited by the offspring.
  • To illustrate these views, he mentioned the giraffe's long neck, and that in stretching for distant leaves their necks grew and were then inherited by the offspring.
  • His views held a mystical assumption, as he thought organisms strived for a "perfection" and became increasingly complex.
  • Charles Darwin openly disagreed with his theory of acquired traits.
  • His scientific theories were ignored or attacked during his lifetime, and he died in poverty and obscurity on December 28, 1829.
  • Buried in a rented grave, after five years his remains were moved. They have not been found today.