Lamarck vs. Darwin

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Lamarck vs. Darwin
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) both thought and had ideas about how life on earth got to be the way it is now. They had some similar and some very different ideas.

What Lamarck Believed

Lamarck is best known for his Theory of Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics, first presented in 1801 (Darwin's first book dealing with natural selection was published in 1859): If an organism changes during life in order to adapt to its environment, those changes are passed on to its offspring. He said that change is made by what the organisms want or need. For example, Lamarck believed that elephants all used to have short trunks. When there was no food or water that they could reach with their short trunks, they stretched their trunks to reach the water and branches, and their offspring inherited long trunks. Lamarck also said that body parts that are not being used, such as the human appendix and little toes are gradually disappearing. Eventually, people will be without these parts. Lamarck also believed that evolution happens according to a predetermined plan and that the results have already been decided.


Lamarck believed that giraffes stretched their necks to reach food. Their offspring and later generations inherited the resulting long necks.

What Darwin Believed

Darwin believed that the desires of animals have nothing to do with how they evolve, and that changes in an organism during its life do not affect the evolution of the species. He said that organisms, even of the same species, are all different and that those which happen to have variations that help them to survive in their environments survive and have more offspring. The offspring are born with their parents' helpful traits, and as they reproduce, individuals with that trait make up more of the population. Other individuals, that are not so well adapted, die off. Most elephants used to have short trunks, but some had longer trunks. When there was no food or water that they could reach with their short trunks, the ones with short trunks died off, and the ones with long trunks survived and reproduced. Eventually, all of the elephants had long trunks. Darwin also believed that evolution does not happen according to any sort of plan.

How They Agreed

Unlike most other people at that time, Darwin and Lamarck both thought that life had changed gradually over time and was still changing, that living things change to be better suited and adapted to their environments, and that all organisms are related. Darwin and Lamarck also agreed that life evolved from fewer, simpler organisms to many, more complex organisms.

Lamarck vs Darwin Poster/Meme

In this activity, you will create a poster that illustrates the differences between Lamarck and Darwin's theories of evolution. Keep in mind when creating the poster what each scientist thought:

Lamarck Darwin

- Use it or lose it - Survival of the fittest

- Acquired characteristics are - Natural variation may give

passed from generation to some offspring an advantage

generation for survival in an environment

  1. Choose a characteristic of an organism. Your poster/Meme should show what BOTH Lamarck and Darwin would say about how that characteristic evolved for that animal.

EX) Giraffe necks (DO NOT use this!!)

2) Label each side to show which is Darwin vs Lamarck's ideas

3) Write a few sentences on the poster/meme for each illustration about how they relate to the two theories.

4) Include your name on the poster!



1. Content:

(10 pts) - Did you accurately show Lamarck's Theory?

- Did you write an accurate explanation to portray his theory?

- Did you accurately show Darwin's Theory?

- Did you write an accurate explanation to portray his theory?

- Is the poster/meme labeled properly?

2. Following Directions & Neatness: (5 pts)

- Did you follow all directions?

- Is your name on it?

- Was the poster neat and easy to understand?

3. Creativity:

(5 pts) - Did you use an original idea? (No copying!)

Is it colored?

Due Date Thursday, March 12, 2015

You can create either a poster or a meme

Meme: contains HUMOR and a CAPTION statement/phrase that is humorous.
Poster: not necessarily funny; more straightforward
Both: compare and contrast the views of the scientists
Examples of animals that you could possibly use (you can do other organisms):

  • Peppered moth

  • Finches (Darwin studied these)

  • Monarch butterfly

  • Viceroy butterfly

  • Whales

  • Snake

Examples of characteristics that you could use for the comparison:

  • Those discussed in the notes Ex: snakes, butterfly

  • Elephant trunk

  • Webbed feet

  • Flippers

  • Claw size

  • Shape of shell

  • Coloration (adaptation)

  • Camouflage (adaptation)

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