Organic evolution, also known as biological evolution, refers to the process by which species of organisms undergo changes in their characteristics over time through natural selection. This theory has been a subject of intense study and debate for centuries. In this article, we will explore the history of the theory and the prominent figures who contributed to its development.

The History of Organic Evolution Theory

The idea that species evolve over time can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Empedocles and Aristotle. However, it was not until the 19th century that a comprehensive theory of organic evolution emerged.

Charles Darwin

One of the most well-known figures associated with organic evolution is Charles Darwin. In 1859, Darwin published his seminal work “On the Origin of Species,” in which he presented his theory of natural selection.

Darwin’s theory proposed that organisms with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on those traits to their offspring. Over time, this process results in the accumulation of genetic changes that can lead to new species.

Darwin’s work was met with controversy at the time, particularly from religious groups who saw it as contradicting biblical teachings. However, his ideas eventually gained widespread acceptance among scientists and have since become a cornerstone of modern biology.

Alfred Russel Wallace

While Darwin is often credited with being the father of organic evolution theory, there was another scientist who independently developed similar ideas around the same time: Alfred Russel Wallace.

Wallace was a British naturalist who spent several years studying biodiversity in Southeast Asia. In 1858, he sent a letter to Darwin outlining his own ideas about natural selection and its role in shaping species diversity.

Darwin was initially taken aback by Wallace’s letter but eventually came to realize that their theories were remarkably similar. The two men jointly presented their ideas at a scientific meeting in 1858, and both were credited with the development of the theory of natural selection.

Other Contributors

While Darwin and Wallace are the most well-known figures associated with organic evolution, there were many other scientists who contributed to the development of the theory.

One such figure was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist who proposed an early theory of evolution based on the idea of acquired traits. Lamarck believed that organisms could pass on characteristics they had acquired during their lifetimes to their offspring, leading to gradual changes in species over time.

Another important contributor was Thomas Henry Huxley, a British biologist who was a strong advocate for Darwin’s ideas. Huxley was also known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defense of evolutionary theory against its detractors.


In conclusion, the theory of organic evolution has a rich history that spans centuries. While Charles Darwin is often seen as the father of the theory, there were many other scientists who contributed to its development. Today, organic evolution is widely accepted as a fundamental principle of biology and continues to be an area of active research and debate.