Lamarck’s theory of evolution was supposed to have died in 1859 when Darwin published his theory of natural selection. Despite textbook depictions of Lamarckism as obsolete, Lamarckian language still surfaces from time to time, even in prestigious journals.
A recent example of speaking like a Lamarckian was detected in Science this month (4 May 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6081 pp. 538–539, DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6081.538-b) in an article entitled, “How the Modern Body Shaped Up.” Evolutionists are not supposed to speak in terms of “use and disuse” and “inheritance of acquired characteristics,” but reporting on a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, correspondent Ann Gibbons came pretty close: “A remarkably comprehensive analysis of more than 2000 European skeletons presented at the meeting reveals how cultural changes have altered our physiques,” she said.
In all fairness, she could have been speaking of how random mutations that were naturally selected led to better adapted physiques – and undoubtedly, if questioned, she would affirm that. Yet for the anthropologists she quoted, it seemed too tempting to speak of humans acquiring their physiques by Lamarckian pressures:
Modern humans have gone through a lot of changes in the past 30,000 years. We switched from hunting and gathering to farming and herding; from life as nomads to settling in urban centers; from eating meat, nuts, and tubers to consuming grains, sugars, and dairy products. Now, a remarkably comprehensive analysis of more than 2000 European skeletons presented at the meeting reveals how these cultural changes have altered our physiques. “When you become a modern human, what happens to your body?” asked paleoanthropologist Christopher Ruff of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, co-chair of the session on skeletal adaptation in recent Europeans.
If “cultural changes” to anatomy are not Lamarckian, what are they? According to neo-Darwinism sensu strictu, changes due to habit have to find expression in the gametes through mutation and natural selection….
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