Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (1 August 1744 – 18 December 1829), often known simply as Lamarck (/ləˈmɑrk/; French: [lamaʁk]), was a French naturalist. He was a soldier, biologist, academic, and an early proponent of the ...
Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (1 August 1744 – 18 December 1829), often known simply as Lamarck (/ləˈmɑrk/; French: [lamaʁk]), was a French naturalist. He was a soldier, biologist, academic, and an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology.
Lamarck fought in the Pomeranian War (1757-1762) with Prussia, and was awarded a commission for bravery on the battlefield. At his post in Monaco, Lamarck became interested in natural history and resolved to study medicine. He retired from the army after being injured in 1766, and returned to his medical studies. Lamarck developed a particular interest in botany, and later, after he published a three-volume work Flore française (1778), he gained membership of the French Academy of Sciences in 1779. Lamarck became involved in the Jardin des Plantes and was appointed to the Chair of Botany in 1788. When the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle was founded in 1793, Lamarck was appointed as a professor of zoology.
In 1801, he published Système des animaux sans vertèbres, a major work on the classification of invertebrates, a term he coined. In an 1802 publication, he became one of the first to use the term biology in its modern sense. Lamarck continued his work as a premier authority on invertebrate zoology. He is remembered, at least in malacology, as a taxonomist of considerable stature.
In the modern era, Lamarck is widely remembered for a theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics, called soft inheritance, Lamarckism or use/disuse theory. However, his idea of soft inheritance was, perhaps, a reflection of the wisdom of the time accepted by many natural historians. Lamarck's contribution to evolutionary theory consisted of the first truly cohesive theory of evolution, in which an alchemical complexifying force drove organisms up a ladder of complexity, and a second environmental force adapted them to local environments through use and disuse of characteristics, differentiating them from other organisms. Scientists have debated whether advances in the field of transgenerational epigenetics mean that Lamarck was to an extent correct, or not.