Publication 3046

Camus P. A. (2000) Evolution in Chile: Natural drift versus natural selection, or the preservation of favoured theories in the struggle for knowledge. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 73: 215–219. Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3046
Chilean biology covers a wide disciplinary spectrum, where evolutionary biology has been able to gain an outstanding presence, despite its notably small number of practitioners. In this regard, however, numbers may appear deceptive. For instance, a review of the papers published from 1983 to 1995 in the Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, which covers all naturalist disciplines, showed that only 4. 7 %dealt with evolutionary aspects sensu lato, a very low percent in comparison to dominant disciplines such as botany, zoology and ecology (Camus 1995) Of course, Chilean evolutionists publish in other Chilean and foreign journals, and thus the above figure is just a vague reference on the relative importance of evolution. Nevertheless, quantitative estimations could not capture the real importance or the impact of evolutionary knowledge on the formation of Chilean naturalists, regardless any explicit or implicit consideration in their own studies. Very likely, Chilean naturalists do see in evolution the ultimate foundation for their work, as an echo of that legendary statement by T. Dobzhansky, and partly as a result of a long darwinian tradition in Chilean universities. In fact, Manrfquez & Rothhammer ( 1997) documented that Darwin’s theory was already incorporated in some school texts as early as 1866, and in 1917 it was approved as part of the official educational program for public schools. This certainly lead to intense public debates between lay and catholic sectors, which lasted for about 60 years. However, Manrfquez & Rothhammer (1997) also mentioned that such a debate not only was virtually absent in Chilean universities, but darwinian theory, and even the basic tenets of the rising synthetic theory of evolution, were formally included in university curricula during the first decades of the 20�h century.

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