Give it up for Mendel!

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFeb 17, 2006 6:50 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

With all the hoopla over Darwin Day (justified in my opinion) I thought I'd point you to this article, Gregor Mendel: The father of genetics. The contemporaneous insights of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel illustrate the beauty of science, nature's gift to us in its underlying unity of form. Darwin looked at the big picture and saw the compelling connection between biological variation across space and time and natural selection. Mendel's experiments elucidated the most atomic and elementary reactions which buttressed the grand arcs of natural history and the flow of selection. Though the underlying unity eluded the first generation of evolutionary biologists after Darwin and Mendel the inevitable reconciliation between genetics and Darwinian evolution was forged by R.A. Fisher in 1918 (here is the paper that did it). Because of the majestic scope of Darwin's ideas he precedes Mendel in the scientific chain of being, but just as great strategicists need the aid of tacticians, evolutionary biology as a discipline would not exist without the insights of Gregor Mendel.^1 1 - Mendelian genetics was an inevitable discovery, as the nearly simultaneous rediscovery of "Mendel's Laws" around 1900 show us. But so what? Newtonian Mechanics was probably inevitable (assuming a scientific culture as we know it), but Isaac Newton was first and foremost. The magnitude of Mendel's discovery was relatively modest compared to that of Newton's, but the vector is the same.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.