The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 4, 2012

February 4, 1674

Edward Tyson, MA of Magdalen , (January 20, 1651 to 1708), was a 17th century scientist. After notable studies, like his  'On the scent-bags in poll-cats,' published after a dissection at Oxford, on February 4, 1674, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. 

Tyson stressed comparative anatomy and so laid the groundwork for the thinking that led to the theory of evolution. For instance, he dissected a house cat and a lion at the same time to convey his idea that a similarity of form allowed one to assume a kinship. He called this "a great chain of being." He may have been the first to employ this term in the service of anatomy--it is a philosophical concept. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

Tyson was influential in preparing the modern intellectual framework for Darwin's conclusions about species. Tyson drew attention to man as part of a continuum of animals forms. Tyson realized that similarity in form indicated a real connection. Ashley Montagu calls "Tyson's demonstration ..that man stood as the natural successor to the ape in the transition and gradation of animal forms in Nature ... an epoch making event..."

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