History of Biology Timeline Project


Period before recorded history

Australia Cave Painting

40000 B.C.

Cave Painting Chauvet France

35000 B.C.

India Cave Painting

10000 B.C.

Fertile Crescent Domestication

8500 B.C.

Domestication of wheat, barely, peas, olives, sheep, and goats in the fertile crescent.

First Evidence of Agriculture of Plants

8000 B.C.

China Domestication

7500 B.C.

Domestication of rice, millet, pigs, silkworms.

Egyptian Domestication

6000 B.C.

Domestication of sycamore, fig, chufa, donkey, and cats.

Fertile Crescent

5000 B.C.

Advent of Agriculture and Domestication

Mesoamerican Domestication

3500 B.C.

Domestication of corn, beans, squash, and turkey.

Bronze Age

3300 B.C. - 1300 B.C.

End of the Stone Age

3300 B.C.

Lasting about 2.5 million preceding 3300 BC

Iron Age

1300 B.C. - 500 B.C.

Ancient Civilization

Ancient Civilization characterized by agriculture, government, dwelling in cities, social stratification, and economic systems


3500 b.c. - 332 b.c.

Near Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in present day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran. Due to geography it was controlled by many empires over time, ending with its conquer by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. The first civilization here was known as the Babylonians or Sumerians.

Began to study endocrinology, histology, comparative anatomy, etc. They were fascinated by sickness & believed that it was a sign of the displeasure of he gods. They were advanced in dentistry, and even had laws governing medical malpractice.

Ancient Egyptian Civilization

3150 B.C. - 30 B.C.

Concentrated along Nile River, in today’s Egypt. They had a central government, a justice system, writing system, literature, art, as well as strong mathematical and construction.

Egyptian Old Kingdom

3150 b.c. - 2000 b.c.

Extensive Pyramid construction.

Mayan Civilization

2600 b.c. - 500 a.d.

There were man mesoamerican civilizations at the time and it is expected they transferred information. This means that many things created by other civilizations were most likely refined by the Mayans. They had a writing system similar to hieroglyphics , practiced extensive agriculture, and had elaborate architecture.

Also had an elaborate calendar system. The day was the basic unit, with 20 day intervals. There were two calendar systems; the 260 day sacred calendar and the 365 day Haab calendar.

No central governing power.

Pre-Colombian America

2000 b.c. - 1800 b.c.

Many large civilizations cropped up in South America during this time.
These include the:
-Maya (~1800BC – 900AD)
-Olmec (1200 – 400BC)
-Atec (1325 – 1521AD)
-Inca (1476 – 1534AD)
There were very few written texts as most were burnt, viewed as heretical.

Egyptian Middle Kingdom

2000 b.c. - 1785 b.c.

Most advancement of the civilization.

Egyptian New Kingdom

1785 b.c. - 30 b.c.

Egyptian Papyrus Ebers

1550 b.c.

Describes 600+ medicines, details on the use of each, and talks about many medical conditions of the time.
Also around this time is the Therapeutic Papyrus, which describes 600 medicines and evidence of biology (tadpoles changing into frogs, etc)

Mesopotamian Cuneiform writing appears

1400 b.c.

One of the first, if not the first alphabet to appear. Written on stone tablets.

Ancient Greece & Rome

Though biological thinking and study was occurring elsewhere (India, China), modern biology is considered to have begun with the Greek philosophers
Naturalistic thought began – natural phenomena can be explained by processes of nature

Thales of Miletius

624 b.c. - 546 b.c.
  • One of the Ionian philosophers
  • Would have had knowledge from Mesopotamia and Egypt
  • First of the pre-socratic philosophers – father of science?
  • Rejected mythical/religious explanations for nature  Rejected following tradition to explain nature
  • One substance cannot explain all matter

Coined the five elements Earth, Wind, Air, Fire, and Aether

Ancient Greece

600 b.c. - 150 b.c.

The Pythagoreans

570 b.c. - 496 b.c.

-Were known for mathematics
- Studied some other topics but not natural science
- Explained the world through mathematics
- However, did have an indirect effect on natural science by being the teacher of Plato & others who did


469 b.c. - 399 b.c.

One of the founders of Western Philosophy
- His teachings are mainly known from later writings
- Main contribution to science was the Socratic method: Start with a problem and break it down into a series of questions, answering each smaller question to solve the problem.

Democritus & Leucippus

460 b.c. - 370 b.c.

They were atomists:
-All matter is made up of elements called atoms:  Many kinds & sizes  Between them is only empty space --indestructible
- Constantly in motion
- Had connectivity & matter made up of many would become solid

Democritus also studied biology: comparative anatomy, believed all animals had organs, much of his work served as a basis for Aristotle's work.


460 b.c. - 377 b.c.

Often referred to as the “Father of Medicine”
- Best known for the Hippocratic Oath which is still made by 20% of physicians today
- Credited with writing many medical texts, although historians are not certain if he is the true author of all of them
- The medical knowledge at the time detailed
-Skeleton, Musculature, Glands and organs Systems, Eye
-terrible at histology – confusing blood vessels with tendons & etc.


423 b.c. - 348 b.c.
  • Philosopher, mathematician & student of Socrates -Plato recorded his philosophies, and those of Socrates, thus it is not always certain who’s ideas was who’s -Founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning

Developed the theory of forms: that abstract forms are behind all things, or the typological approach.


384 b.c. - 322 b.c.
  • Examined the essential properties of things to explain their variation
  • Focused on the cause of why things were the way that they were, and why there were differences between similar things
  • Had a particular interest in the living world
  • First philosopher to take real interest in biology and zoology
  • Makes him the first biologist  Studied form and function of fish on the island of Lesbos (Greece)
  • Based on empirical evidence (observation) – e.g. fish dissections Wrote 3 books:
  • Historia Animalium (History of animals - on taxonomy)
  • De Generatione Animalium (Generation of Animals (on reproduction)
  • De Partibus Animalium (Parts of Animals - on anatomy) Classified Animals: 1) Animals with blood & animals without blood Vertebrates vs. invertebrates 2) Live bearing & egg-bearing Mammals vs. others 3) Soft bodied or hard shelled

And much more!

Roman Empire

150 b.c. - 476 a.d.

One of the greatest empires of the world but much less advancement in science, philosophy and math compared to Greece. It can be argued that much of what came out of Rome was really just derived from the Greek philosophers.

Gaius Plinius Secundus

23 a.d. - 79 a.d.

wrote the Historia Naturalis - described animals and amalgamated knowledge from many other sources into one volume


131 a.d. - 200 a.d.

Physician to the gladiators & the emperor Marcus Aurelius
- Used the pulse to diagnose illness
- Studied and wrote about medicine and anatomy
- His works were treated like medical gospel for a long time

Ancient China

Many developments were also happening in the east, with a succession of Asian dynasties. Scientific thought was maintained even as dynasties rose and fell.

Fu His

2852 b.c.

Formed the yin yang doctrine – cornerstone of Chinese philosophy in his book I Ching (Book of Changes) which is the oldest Chinese book.

Shen Nung

2697 b.c.

The second emperor and father of agriculture, botany, and herbal medicine in the east. Wrote the first herbal Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao (Shen Nung’s Herbal).

Huang Ti

2697 b.c. - 2595 b.c.

Third emperor. Developed wheeled vehicle, ships, planetarium, cloth clothing, currency, musical notation etc.. Also wrote Huang Ti Nei Ching (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine).

Chang Chung Ching

166 b.c. - 158 b.c.

First real physician to catalogue symptoms and remedies. Wrote: Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Ailments Attributed to the Cold)

Hua To

142 b.c. - 136 b.c.

Renowned surgeon of the time. He invented sutures, and was one of the first to employ anesthetics.

European Middle Ages

Economic uncertainty and political confusion followed the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 AD. People did not have the resources for academic endeavours, as life was hard, and turned towards religion. Christianity in particular.


300 b.c.

The first bestiary

St. Augustine of Hippo

354 - 430

In "The Literal Interpretation of Genesis” he states that the genesis story is not meant to be interpreted entirely literally, and that there would be room for new interpretations as more information is obtained.

European Middle Ages

476 - 1300

University of Bologna


The first university started in Italy. Represents a move away from religious schools to Sciences, professional training, bettering society, law, medicine, critical thinking & research. Others were initiated in France (Paris, Montpellier) and England (Oxford, Cambridge).

Hildegard of Bingen

1098 - 1179

Nun & abbess
- Writer, composer, philosopher & mystic
- Some writing dedicated to science
- Medicine, 2000+ remedies
- Natural history of medicinal plants
- Animals and trees

Albertus Magnus

1193 - 1280

Catholic Saint
- German Dominican Order friar and bishop
- Considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of the middle ages & a “Doctor of the Church”

-translated many arabic texts to latin
-studied the natural sciences, wrote 36 volumes on many subjects
-wrote De Animalibus

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II

1194 - 1250

Was not as governed by religion as most during his time. He believed that everything could be explained by reason (i.e. religious explanations were not necessary), and was a supporter of scientific advancement. Created many laws that have had an impact on modern thinking (pharmacists can't be physicians!). BUT conducted tests on human subjects.

St. Thomas Aquinas

1225 - 1274

Student of Albertus Magnus
- Catholic priest in Italy
- Also a “Doctor of the Church”
- Like St. Augustine, believed that the creation story should not be taken too literally, & that nature had some autonomous processes as well.

Islamic Middle Ages

At the same time as the European Middle Ages, the Islamic middle ages was also taking place. While they were also monotheistic, they had a very different take on scientific achievement compared to christians at the time. The prophet states that one should seek knowledge, and so the pursuit of knowledge has diving purpose. Also, the Caliphs recognized that knowledge is power, and they employed many scholars to collect and come up with new scientific knowledge.


570 - 632

Islamic Middle Ages

632 - 1258

Islamic Golden Age

750 - 1258

Significant scientific development.

al Jahiz

781 - 869

Wrote The Book of Animals
- Discussed the effects of environmental factors on the survival of animals
- Described the struggle for survival
- Described food chains

Abbas Ibn Firnas

810 - 887

Developed clear glass & made lenses to improve eyesight

Abu Bakr Zakariya al-Razi (Rhazes)

854 - 925
  • Wrote about medicine
  • First described smallpox and the measles
  • Recognized that the fever was a defense mechanism of the body
  • Wrote a 237 books, 36 of which are still around - medical texts amalgamating knowledge from China, India, Greece and the Middle East

Ibrahim Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

908 - 946

Wrote The Canon of Medicine
- Summarized all medical knowledge at that time
- Compiled the work of the ancient Greeks and Galen as well as Arabic knowledge
- Became the leading medical text and was used up until the 1600s (basically until Descartes)
- Became the medical authority in the west once they realized that the Islamic medicine was more advanced

One of THE most important figures in medicine and biology

Al Zahrawi

936 - 1013

Wrote al-Tasrif – a medical book
Particularly notable for the volume on surgery – which details many procedures thought to have only emerged in modern times.

Ibn Kaldun

1332 - 1406

Described that humans would have come from monkeys in his Muqaddimah (1377)

The Renaissance

Takes place between the end of the middle ages and the beginning of the modern era. This era represents a revival of learning and progress in the sciences as well as other areas. New interest rose in studying nature Science based on observation and experiments began to be accepted. The invention of the printing press meant work could be shared and spread farther afield

The Renaissance

1258 - 1650

Variety of diseases in the period including syphilis, smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid fever, malaria, the black death.

Surgery saw an increased focus but was hindered by Pain (lack of anesthetics), haemorrhaging, and infection). There were generally 3 classes of surgeons at the time:
3 classes of surgeons:
1) Faculty of Physicians – did not conduct the surgery (thinking themselves too superior)
2) Surgeons of the College of St. Come – surface applications & minor surgeries
3) Barber surgeons – did most of actual surgeries

Guy De Chauliac

1300 - 1370

Amalgamated the study of anatomy, medicine and surgery, as well as being the first person to promote them as having much in common. Treated cancer and ulcers by cutting them out and developed a crude form of anesthesia.

Leonardo da Vinci

1452 - 1519

He was one of the great anatomists. Went to anatomies and dissected animals and humans to perfect his art, making it very realistic.

Nicolous Copernicus

1473 - 1543

He was an astronomer who believed in the heliocentric model but couldn't prove it. Proved later by Brahe, Kepler and Galileo.


1475 - 1564

Also a great anatomist and artist, using anatomy just as Davinci did. Was not as scientifically inclined but had a larger body of artistic works, most famously, set in stone.

The Vitruvian man


The Last Supper


Scientific Revoluation

1500 - 1650

The findings of Copernicus & Vaselius sparked the proliferation of scientific work & thus development towards modern science.

Michaelangelo's David


His most famous work!

The Mona Lisa


Andreas Vesalius

1514 - 1564

Born in Germany, he initially studied Galen's anatomy but abandoned it after discovering that Galen had never seen inside a body. Wrote: De humani corporis fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body). Was a physician for Roman Emperor. His public break from Galen was not well received.

Ambroise Pare

1517 - 1590

He was the most notable surgeon of the Renaissance. He rejected the idea that puss was simply the bodies way of ejecting the unhealthy. He stopped using the treatment of hot oil for gunshot wounds, invented a way of stopping post surgery bleeding, introduced artificial limbs, and simplified many overly complex surgical procedures.

Gabriel Falloppio

1523 - 1562

Anatomist, and advanced reproductive physiology in particular. Had the follopian tube named after him. With Steno (who actually coined the term “ovary”) discovered that sharks have eggs and ovaries to the incredulity of the scientific community at the time

Hieronymus Fabricius

1537 - 1619

Wrote “On the Formation of the Fetus”, which established embryology as a subject. Studied chick development in the egg and discovered that the follicle in the ovary is what housed the egg.

Vesalius's The Fabric of the Human Body


Kaspar Bauhin

1560 - 1624

wrote a book including all previously described plants (1623) Pinax Theatri Botanici

Sir Francis Bacon

1561 - 1626

Philosopher, lawyer, jurist, ~scientist.
Helped develop the more modern scientific method. He argued that the understanding of the natural world requires observation, a break from the classical deductive reasoning. He wrote Instouratio Magna (1620), which included the basic principles of the scientific method:
-information search
-information from observation and experimentation
-Draw conclusions from this reliable information – Inductive reasoning
The only thing he was missing? The Hypothesis

William Harvey

1578 - 1657

Beginnings of physiology. Studied the functions of organs and was the first to say that blood was circulating constantly.

Joachim Jung

1587 - 1657

coined many terms used in plant biology today for classification (simple, compound leaves, stamen, petiole, etc).

René Descartes

1596 - 1650

A philosopher, biggest contributions were in math. Also contributed to founding principles of the scientific method. However, believed in automata (organisms regulated by automatic forces), leading to the idea that animals had no soul and no pain. A major roadblock for biology!

Bacon's Instouratio Magna


Bauhin's Pinax Theatri Botanici


included all previously described plants.
Used two names to classify the plants (genus, species) – lead to the modern binomial nomenclature

John Ray

1627 - 1705

Described & classified plants & animals according to “the Creator’s plan”. Classification based on the basic structure (rather than colour, size, habit) – this was his biggest advancement. He was also the first to give a definition for a species!

Marcello Malpighi

1628 - 1694

First to use the microscope to examine life. Examined different tissues under the microscope both plant and animal

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

1632 - 1723

Contributed greatly to the advancement of microscopy, developed powerful lenses, and was the first to really discover the microbial world (bacteria in 1676)

Robert Hooke

1635 - 1703

Early leader & Curator of experiments at the RSL. Wrote Micrographia in 1665. Was more interested in parts of animals (compared to Leeuwenhoek who was interested in the whole). He also designed the compound microscope and is best known for discovering compartments in cork and coining the term "cells".

Jan Swammerdam

1637 - 1680

Began by studying medicine (& got a degree), but eventually found animal biology more interesting. Dissected many small animals & was the first to use a microscope to do so. Most of his work was published after his death: Biblia Naturae (Book of Nature) by Hurman Boerhaave.

He described the detailed metamorphosis of insects, recognizing that the different stages were the SAME species.

Nicolaus Steno

1638 - 1686

Noticed that fossil shark teeth (then called “tongue stones”) looked exactly like sharks teeth, only larger. These kinds of discoveries & ideas challenged the Christian notion of creationism. Implies the creator made a mistake.

Nehemia Grew

1641 - 1712

Biggest contribution was the anatomy of the flower. Wrote Philosophical History of Plants & Anatomy of Plants.

Regnier de Graff

1641 - 1673

Wrote that he had followed the movement of the egg from the follicle, through the fallopian tube to the uterus, detailed ovulation, and had the Grafian follicle named after him.

Isaac Newton

1643 - 1727

Formulated the laws of gravity, developed calculus and maintained that scientific theory should be done in conjunction with experimentation.

Royal Society of London

1645 - 1662

First began as an informal meeting of scientists in 1645 and was later incorporated as the Royal Society in 1662 by Charles II. Still around today!

Hooke's Micrographia


Discovery of bacteria


by van Leeuwenhoek

Ray's History of the Planet


Hooke's Discourse on Earthquakes


Examined wood, and fossilized wood under the microscope and concluded that they were very similar. Believed fossils were once animals.

The Enlightenment

Began between 1750-1800 and was centred in France. It was a cultural movement of the elite promoting justice, knowledge, and equality. This was an exciting time with:
1) The American revolution (War ofIndependence in the US) (1775 – 1783)

2) The French Revolution (1789 – 1799)

3) The industrial revolution (~ 1780 - 1840)

4) Explorations

The Enlightenment

1650 - 1800

Cotton Mather

1663 - 1710

first employed on a large scale.

Rene Ferchault

1683 - 1798

Discovered that digestion was not only mechnical, but also chemical

Pierre-Louis Moreau and Evolution

1698 - 1759

System of nature - stated that all nature began by chance rather than by creation, touching on the struggle for life.

Erasmus Darwin & Evolution

1701 - 1802

Charles Darwin's grandfather and physician. Emphasized the importance of environmental factors in the development of species. Suggested descent from a common ancestor and survival of the fittest!

Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon

1707 - 1788

He originally believed in creation but then came to believe that species could trasmute, developing from one original species. However he believed in inheritance of acquired characteristics and 4 factors of evolutionary change:
1. Direct influence of the environment
2. migration
3. Geographical isolation
4. Overcrowding and struggle for existence

Carl von Linnaeus and Classification

1707 - 1778

Most noted for his system of classification for which he displayed particular genius. He did not investigate organisms himself, but developed classification of known organisms for the most part, solidifying the binomial system. Before Linnaeus, Aristotle's system was still the norm, which did not work well for numerous species.

Albrecht von Haller

1708 - 1777

Advanced physiology. He described the nervous system as “irritable” or“non-irritable”; terms still used today. He provided insight into the nervous system and believed that it communicated with the brain.

Spermists vs. Ovists

1710 - 1790

debate on whether or not the new organisms developed either entirely from the sperm or the egg. Charles Bonnet (1720 - 1793) by studying aphids thought that that he had proved ovism, but really he observed parthenogenesis.

David Hume

1711 - 1776

Philosopher, champion of empiricism, and skepticism. He persuaded many scientists to reject classical & rationalist philosophers & old texts. Hume was one of the most influential philosophers that took scientific thinking away from religious explanations. He questioned many religious teachings (existence of God, soul, eternal life and many other abstract aspects).

Large Hospitals Open in London

1719 - 1745

5 large hospitals open

Charles Bonnet

1720 - 1793

studying aphids thought that that he had proved ovism, but really he observed parthenogenesis. He also dabbled in entomology – discovering that some animals cut in half can regenerate back into a whole organism.

Linnaeus's Systema Naturae


Binomial nomenclature only & had class, genus and species. Phylum, family, super & sub- groups were invented after his time. Also evolutionary context was not used.

Jean-Baptist Lamarck

1744 - 1829

A student of Buffon, he studied taxonomy, classified things by function rather than form as did Linnaeus. He believed in the inheritance of acquired traits:
1. Environment modifies plants and animals
2. New needs modify old organs giving them
new function
3. Use or disuse affects their development
4. These changes are inherited

Thomas Malthus & his Essay on Population

1766 - 1834

Stated that populations of organisms grow faster than do their food sources, thus their numbers are eventually controlled by food availability. This was later used by Darwin for his theory.

The Endeavour Exploration


The king gave the RSL 4000 pounds for an expedition to the south seas near Tahiti to take place in 1768. James Cook was the captain, and Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820) requested to go to study the natural history. He brought along a library costing more than the trip itself (10000 pounds).
Many plants collected and notes stored at the Royal Society, including descriptions of marsupials, and the first platypus ever brought back.
Discovered the Great Barrier Reef!

Georges Cuvier & Catastrophism

1769 - 1832

Known for pioneering comparative anatomy and palaeontology. He recognized that fossils represented animals, and that some species did in fact go extinct. However he opposed evolution, citing catastrophism; a series of successive creation events or disasters, NOT gradual change.

Mummified specimens obtained from Egypt of Ibis and cat proved to him that evolution did not occur – since they were exactly like some extant species

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire

1772 - 1844

Opposed Cuvier's opinion and thought that physiological and geographical isolation affected speciation. Believed in God, but not in the literal translation of the bible nor in things like miracles – like many scientists of the time.

Banks becomes the curator of RBG


Banks became the curator of the Royal Botanical Gardens, housing many of the living plants from expeditions. Many other expeditions sent out by banks to collect more.

Humphry Davy: Nitrous oxide Anesthesia

1778 - 1819

pain-reducing properties discovered by Humphry Davy (1778 – 1819) but was not used as an anesthetic until later. Addictive – Davies and many of his colleague became addicted.

Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis: Use of statistics in medicine

1787 - 1872

these were medical statistics instead of “vital” statistics that just looked mainly at mortality rates. Lead to a much greater understanding of clinical, pathological and anatomical problems.

Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia


Discovery of the Rosetta Stone


Napoleon found the Rosetta Stone during his Egyptian invasion. This text had Egyptian hieroglyphs and a Greek translation, revolutionizing the translation of hieroglyphics.

Charles Darwin

1809 - 1882

After deliberation agreed to be part of the Beagle's voyage as a naturalist. He recorded what he saw on the voyage, examining the life of the natural world. When they reached the Galapagos he collected a number of specimens and observations.

When he returned to England he was already famous, and wrote "A Naturalist’s Voyage Around the World". His theories on evolution were inspired by the trip but not yet fully formed. Meanwhile, other people would develop theories that would progress towards evolution.

Lamarck's Zoological Philosophy


Stated that more complex life rose from more primitive forms
1. Famous delusion of inheritance of acquired traits (was not the first to say this thought)
2. Used this and the Greek theory of inheritance of traits
3. Over time these traits accumulate and can get new species
4. Species do not go extinct, but change into new species

Alfred Russel Wallace

1823 - 1913

Thomas Huxley "Darwin's Bulldog"

1825 - 1895

Believed in evolution but had found there was not enough evidence to support the theory yet. When he met Darwin and learned of his theory he believed in it strongly, acting as Darwin’s agent & supporter, and promoted his idea. Had the nickname “Darwin’s Bulldog”

The Beagle Voyage

1831 - 1836

Sole purpose was for scientific discovery
- Mainly geography – for naval purposes
- Around South America & then rest of the world
- Darwin was recommended to be the naturalist on board

The Darwin-Wallace Connection


When Darwin was preparing a paper on his theory in 1842 he received a paper to review for Alfred
Russel Wallace. This paper outlined Darwin's own theory, which Wallace had come up with in a malaria struck fever. However, Wallace did not have the evidence to back it up.

Horace Wells: Nitric Oxide First used as Anesthetic


Darwin and Wallace publish a paper via the Linnaean Society


"On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection"

On the Origin of Species


Darwin's publication and the most seminal book in all of Biology. "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, of the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life". However the mechanism of change was not understood, even by Darwin (no one knew about genetics yet!)

Every copy sold on the first day, and it was met with great controversy. The most influential person in biology to ever live.

Modern Era

From the end of the enlightenment up until today. With the release of Darwin's "Origin of Species" things changed rapidly. The pace of innovation in the modern era is arguably much greater than any other eras, including the enlightenment and the renaissance.

William Lawrence & Emergence of Race

1783 - 1867

He wrote Lectures on Physiology (1819), and argued that there were several human races. It was not meant to be offensive, but others interpreted the lectures in a racially bias way.

Richard Owen the professional Biologist

1804 - 1892

He was a palaeontologist and the only professional biologist in England at the time. He coined the term “Dinosauria”, contributed allot to the notion of homology, and opposed Origin & evolution.

Theodore Schwann & Matthias Schleidan

1804 - 1882

Theodore Schwann (1810 – 1882) - was studying animal cells (many types)
Matthias Schleidan (1804 – 1881) – was studying plant cells

Chatting about research and discovered that the nucleus in both types of cell sounded similar.

1839 – Schwann published a book about plant and animal cells & did not even acknowledge Schleidan

Robert Remak, Rudolf Virchow, and Cell Theory

1815 - 1902

Robert Remak (1815 – 1865),Observed that cells divided to produce two
new cells.
Rudolf Virchow (1821 – 1902) agreed, plagiarized work and completed last tenant of cell theory.

James Blundell: First Blood Transfusion


Lawrence's Lectures on Physiology


Florence Nightengale: Beginning of Nursing

1820 - 1910

In 1844 she decided to nurse the sick. Before this this was deemed a worthless job and her family was disgusted (still a time when surgeons were low class). It took her 8 years before she could begin to
nurse. When the Crimean war broke (1854) she worked at an English hospital in Turkey and revolutionized cleanliness in the wards, meal provisions, etc etc and reduced the mortality rate from 40% - 2% in 6 months.

Francis Galton & Eugenics

1822 - 1911

Discussed eugenics in Inquiry into Human Faculty (1883) and Hereditary Genius (1869).
Thought that science could improve humans by selective breeding. Eugenics was thought of as the science of genetics as applied to humans, not the idea to reconstruct humanity!

Believed that traits were inherited &:
- That desirable and undesirable traits could be distinguished objectively
- Did not really take the factor of environmental influence into account
- Thought that by selective breeding could improve humans
- However, this idea was based on poor understanding of genetics in the first place!

Joseph Lister: Antiseptics

1827 - 1912

Introduce the use of carbolic acid to sterilize wounds in 1865
Used it to soak wounds, and also sprayed it in the air to disinfect
Used for surgery, became known as “Listerism”

Robert Brown discovers the nucleus


Ernst Haeckel & August Weismann

1834 - 1919

Both believed in Darwin's rue of inheritance. They proposed advanced ideas at the time, including the idea that information was contained in the chromosomes, and identified that the inherited material at some point became separate from the body of the parent.

Crawford Long: First operation with Ether as anesthesia


Robert Koch: Discovers bacteria causes disease

1843 - 1910

Eugenics Building in Germany

1850 - 1933

Called Rassenhygiene or “race hygiene” the idea had been building before the Nazi's took power in 1933 (Hitler). Where he decided to use eugenics to fix growing social problems (Increased crime, alcohol use, suicide, prostitution, mental illness).

Many eugenics specialists were physicians by training, and by the mid 1800's these physicians assumed roles of great political power as gatekeepers of health and wellbeing. Began to be aware that some diseases appeared to be inherited.

Rudolf Virchow: Omnis vivo e vivo; Omnis cellula e cellula


all living things come from other living things & all cells come from other cells

Florence Nightingale found first nursing school in England


1) She revolutionized nursing, and is the founder of the nursing profession
2) She reformed sanitary systems for hospitals
3) She recorded details of all cases and is also the
inventor of epidemiology & its statistics
Her original works are still used today in the teaching of

Carbolic Acid sterilization introduced


By Joseph Lister

Mendel's Work


First work in inheritance published in 1866 but not recognized until 1900, by William Bateson (1861-1926)

Marie Curie: Radioactivity

1867 - 1934

She discovered radium and polonium. She would carry a test tube of radioative substance in her pocket & keep it in her drawer because it glowed. Died from aplastic anemia from radiation exposure.

Ernst Haekel terms Ecology


Louis Pasteur: Germ Theory


Darwin's “The Decent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex ”


Applied evolutionary theories to humans. Covered many topics (including the introduction of sexual selection)
Discussed the races however considered them all part of the same species and were merely variants of subspecies with superficial differences. Also covered the difference between sexes, relevancy of natural selection to society, and descent from ape ancestors.

Ernst von Bergmann introduces steam sterilization


replaced carbolic acid asepsis

Walther Flemming describes Mitosis


Karl August Mobius: Discovered Organelles


He only studies single celled organisms, and only later were these also identified in multicellular organisms

Christian Gram: Developed Gram Stain


Fritz Lenz

1887 - 1976

Believed that the races had different traits that were inherited. He ranked the races, with Nordic (Aryan) on top and black people at the bottom. Women considered inferior to men, and was a member of the nazi party.

William Halsted introduces rubber gloves


Eugenics Exploration

1890 - 1940

Many Western nations were exploring these ideas: France, England Russia, Germany, America, Brazil. This was in response to a perception of degeneration in society. For example, sterilization of criminals was proposed following the work of Galton (for sex offenders and repeat offenders). This was based on the belief that these traits could be passed on!

Social Darwinism

1890 - 1945

The application of principals of natural selection / evolution to the development in society. Basic principal: there are underlying forces acting on society that are similar to those action on nature. Linked to the Eugenics movement in Nazi Germany.

Haeckel and Weismann both discussed how progress was not guaranteed by natural selection. Thought the unfit might still reproduce, especially with industrialization, as life was no longer hard for everyone. The eugenics movement proposed to reduce the numbers of these people through “rational selection” (race hygiene)

Rontgen discovers the Xray


Camillo Golgi discovers Golgi Apparatus


one of the first staining techniques.

Marie Curie discovers polonium & radium


The 20th Century

Journal Biometrika started


Eugenics journal

Mendel's work becomes famous


finally published in 1901 in the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society

Karl Landsteiner: Blood Types


William Einthoven: Electrocardiograph EKG/ECG


Marie Curie receives Nobel Prizes

1903 - 1911

Received one in 1903 in physics and one in 1911 for chemistry. She was the first woman to win a nobel prize.

Wendell Stanley: Viruses

1904 - 1971

Chemist who discovered viruses focussing on the tobacco mosaic and flu virus. Found that they could reproduce, but only within live cells. Won a Nobel in 1946 for this work

World War I

1914 - 1918

The first world war, centred in Europe. All the world’s biggest powers were involved. It had a large health impact with millions of deaths from Malaria, Typhus, and the flu.

Bengt Lidforss coins the term organelle


As these structures were analogous to organs in the whole body

Frederick Banting & Charles Best: Insulin



The Great Depression

1929 - 1940

Sever worldwide economic depression

Gordon Childe's "Man Makes Himself"


The Oasis Theory: Climate became drier, and people concentrated in oases and had to cultivate to get enough food. Not supported today.

World War II

1939 - 1945

Most countries and superpowers involved. Many cases of human experimentation by the Axis, especially Japan and Germany. Ignored global treaties and Conventions of the time – i.e. the first three of the 4 Geneva
Conventions – that specify specify the rules for times of war including how prisoners of war & wounded should be treated (etc.)

Most infamous was doctors of unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army including Vivisection, Dismemberment, Bacterial infection, Induced epidemics of plague, smallpox

In Germany, SS doctors conducted many experiments on those in concentration camps.

The Effect of War on Biology


The war had a positive effect on biology, including better public roles, more funding, advancement of medicine, biochemistry, agriculture, and international cooperation.

The Nuremburg Trials


Many German doctors were tried at the international Nuremburg Trials after WWII. Lead to the Nuremberg Code on medical testing.

Article 4 of the Geneva Convention


adding in protection for civilian POWs

Invention of Carbon Dating


Invented by James Arnold & Willard Libby at the University of Chicago. Examines the change in carbon ratio of organic substances over time.


1950 - 1960

The desire to explain the biological nature of human behaviour increased – (e.g. aggression, sexuality, territoriality etc)

Robert Briggs & Thomas King: Cloning


Ecology comes to the forefront

1960 - 1970

Ecological talk comes to forefront with:
1) Chemical pollution rises
2) Increase in nuclear technology & threat of nuclear war
3) Space race
4) Human population growth

Cardiopulminary resuscitation


First oral contraceptive aproved by FDA


Jane Goodall sent to Tanzania to study chimps


Silent Spring published by Rachel Carson


Thomas Starzl: First Liver and Lung Transplant


he Naked Ape: a Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal by Desmond


Humans were examined as animals. Behaviour described as evolved. Became very popular - & transcribed into 23 languages..
- But scientists largely found the work flawed
- However, there are allot of interesting ideas & it helped to spur on the study of human behaviour

Dian Fossey sent to Rwanda to study mountain gorillas


Paul Ehrlich publishes The Population Bomb


Environmental Protection Agency is created in the US


Biruté Galdikas sent to Indonesia to study orangutans


Use of DDT is banned for agricultural use


Albert Claude, Christian Rene, & Georges Emile Palade


won the Nobel prize in 1974 for discovering the functions of several organelles.

Lucy found by Donald Johanson & Tom Gray


Australopithecus afarensus. She is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. At the time was the oldest human ancestor found (replaced only recently by one 4.4 million years old).

Term Putrid Matter termed by Alexander Gordon


Edward O. Wilson: Sociobiology: the New Synthesis


Altruism is adaptive because individuals sacrifice themselves for their relatives - & some of their genes are still passed on

PET Scan


Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene


Hole in the Ozone layer discovered


over Antarctica

Jarod Diamond's "Guns, Germs, & Steel"


The development of cultures depends on the natural resources available to them. This determines excess food supply, which in turn allows for specialization of labour and the development of complicated economic systems. These things eventually lead to urbanization and culture.

Kyoto Protocol