Happy 272nd birthday, Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Lamarck!

And the 1st of August is his birthday. I will list some of his real biological achievements below the fold, and dispell some myths. We've discussed this every year, so I will keep this short. Suffice it to say that the inscription on his statue in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris declares that he was the "Fondateur de la doctrine de l'évolution", and there is a good argument that he really was. His name was actually Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet (Chevalier de Lamarck). He started as an impoverished nobleman who was invalided from the army, but then by writing books on botany he came to the attention of Buffon, and ended up one of the Professors at the National Museum of Natural History. He was more or less forced to work on invertebrates, but then found them fascinating. He greatly clarified invertebrate taxonomy (no, he decided, barnacles were not molluscs), and invented the words "invertebrate" and "biology". Then, starting about 1800 he began to argue that organisms evolved, with the mechanism bringing about adaptation being inherited effects of use and disuse. There are predecessors, all the way back to Ancient Greece, but for my money he was the first major evolutionary biologist. And no, he did not invent inheritance of acquired characters (everybody already believed in it). So although his mechanism for adaptation was wrong, he was at least trying to come up with a mechanism. No quack he, but a great scientist.