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neo-DarwinismNeodarwinismus (ger.)

  • Theory of biological evolution (widely accepted since the 1920s) based on Darwin's theory of natural selection but incorporating the theories of later biologists regarding genes, inheritance, and mutation, particularly those of Weismann and Mendel. (OED)

    I may predict with some certainty that before long we shall find the original Darwinism of Dr. Erasmus Darwin […] generally accepted instead of the neo-Darwinism of to-day, and that the variations whose accumulation results in species will be recognised as due to the wants and endeavours of the living forms in which they appear, instead of being ascribed to chance, or, in other words, to unknown causes, as by Mr. Charles Darwin’s system

    Butler, S. (1880). Unconscious Memory: 280; cf. 34.


    The distinction between Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism is generally believed to lie in the adoption of a theory of natural selection by the younger Darwin and its non-adoption by the elder

    Butler, S. (1887). Luck, or Cunning as the Main Means of Organic Modification? An Attempt to Throw Additional Light upon the late Mr. Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection: 91; cf. 9, 253.


    A consideration of the mental evolution of man, according to neo-Darwinism was promised as the subject of the future lecture.

    Lankester, E.R. (1889). Darwin versus Lamarck. Nature 39, 428-9: 429



    Anonymus (1891). Note to: Ward, L.F. (1891). Neo-Darwinism and Neo-Lamarckism. Address to the Biological Society of Washington. Amer. Nat. 25, 298.

    Ward, L.F. (1892). Neo-Darwinism and neo-Lamarckism. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 6, 11-71: 13; 19.

    [Neo-Darwinians― Those who believe that Natural Selection has been the only modifying influence in the evolution of species, and that the material for its action has been only plasmogenic characters (q. v.).

    Romanes, G.J. (1893). An Examination of Weismannism: 213.]


    neo-Darwinism‹ is the Darwinism which fails to distinguish between […] the transmutation of a specific type in a single line of change, and the differentiation of a specific type in two or more lines of change

    Romanes, G.J. (1893). Co-adaptation and free intercrossing. Nature 43, 582-3.


    [I may reserve further quotations from Darwin's works, which will show that the above is a correct epitome of his views as contrasted with those of Wallace and the Neo-Darwian school of Weismann.

    Romanes, G.J. (1892-97). Darwin and After Darwin, 3 vols.: II (1895), 7.]


    neo-Darwinism The modern theory of evolution that combines both natural selection andpopulation genetics, in which the Darwinian concept of spontaneous variation is explained in terms of mutation and genetic recombination; neo-Darwinian evolution.

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 165.