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Lyell believed that geological activity of the sort which can be seen in operation at the present time could, granted sufficient time, have caused every feature of the Earth's surface then known. This opinion, which was essentially the same as Hutton's, was known as uniformitarianism. In this belief Lyell was quite extreme. Unlike m a n y of his contemporaries, who proceeded 48 Mid-Nineteenth-Century Scientists from arguments like Laplace's on the origin of the Solar System, Lyell denied even that the E a r t h had ever been in a molten state.

Thus if climatic change led to a scarcity of herbage, the necks of successive generations of a giraffe-like creature would increase in length, as members of the species strove to feed off the foliage of trees. Likewise, the eyes of creatures changing to an environment of complete darkness would tend to disappear, down the generations. In all cases, it was the striving of individual creatures which really mattered. In other words, like Erasmus Darwin he believed in the inheritance of "acquired characteristics", and similarly, one might say, of lost characteristics.

North: Charles Darwin (1809-1882) 45 Fitz-Roy was a captain of very uncertain ways. Storming with rage for much of the time, he was morose and melancholic for the rest. Like his uncle, Lord Gastlereagh, Fitz-Roy was destined to commit suicide. As his name implies, he was descended from Charles II. He was a passionate defender of Slavery. He was said to have selected his crew by the shape of their features, and Darwin's nose was almost a bar to his being accepted in the first place. The two men had their quarrels, but this is not entirely surprising when we recall the length of the voyage, the cramped ship's quarters, and the fact that Fitz-Roy was only four years older than Darwin, who was 22.

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