Friday, 20 October 2017 — 12:00 noon — WAG 316
Rodolfo John Alaniz, UT-IHS
“Denizens of the Deep: Biological Specimens and the Nineteenth-Century Evolutionary Debates”
Deep-sea invertebrates, especially the Crinoidea, appear in most major nineteenth-century evolutionary texts. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the French transmutationist, employed crinoids to establish his philosophical study of living beings. Charles Darwin used crinoids to describe species diversity in The Descent of Man, his book on race and sexual selection. Wyville Thomson, leader of the Challenger Expedition, attempted to dismantle Darwin’s theory with an analysis of crinoid distribution. Time and again, elite naturalists turned to deep-sea invertebrates to adjudicate evolutionary questions, and, consequently, a science studies analysis of these specimens is essential for understanding the history of nineteenth-century evolutionary theories. This introductory presentation explores the rise of these ubiquitous specimens and their role in the fate of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
Rodolfo John Alaniz earned his PhD at UC–San Diego in 2014 and was a visiting faculty member at UC-Berkeley from 2015 to 2017. He holds the 2016–2017 Ritter Memorial Fellowship of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is a postdoctoral affiliate at the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Historical Studies. He is currently completing a monograph entitled Darwin in the Deep: Marine Invertebrates, Evolutionary Methodologies, and the Nineteenth-Century Debate over Natural Selection.