Difference Between Darwinism and Lamarckism

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What is Darwinism?

Also known as Darwinian Theory or Theory of Natural Selection, Darwinism is defined as a theory of biological evolution founded by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), This describes a philosophy in which all species of organisms evolve and develop through the natural selection of small and hereditary variations which enhance the ability of an individual to compete, survive and reproduce. It is, more precisely, a distinctive form of evolutionary reasoning for the origin and nature of earthly life.

The theory 's major concepts include overproduction, the fight for life, differences, the survival of the fittest species and the origin of organisms. Those can be explained further as follows.

  • Species are created by individuals who differ slightly with respect to their various characteristics.

  • Species have a tendency to grow their numbers at a geometric rate over centuries.

  • This propensity is assessed by the concepts of population, limited resources, disease and predation that will ultimately determine the struggle for survival among members of a species.

  • Some individuals will have variations, giving them a slight advantage in this battle, where individual variations will allow more effective or better access to resources, greater disease resistance and greater success in preventing predation.

  • These people also survive better than others, yielding more offspring.

  • Offspring will inherit many variations on the part of their parents.

  • As a result, favorable variations are more frequently passed than others and thus preserved over time, and this significant trend is called ‘Natural’.

  • This method, however, will result in a fundamental change in the character of a given species.

  • The declining populations of an ancestor species will vary enough over a long period of time, and will be categorized as a different species with a capacity process along with an infinite iteration.

  • The elimination of intermediate varieties will be the responsibility of forces which promote divergence among descendant populations.

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What is Lamarckism?

Being the first Theory of Evolution, proposed by Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, a French biologist (1744-1829), Lamarckism is defined as a combination of theories consisting of the inheritance of characters acquired and the use and disuse of organs.

In a simpler way, this concept suggests that in all species there is an inner vital force with special consideration of basic needs and desires to produce new structures and alter the behavior of whole organisms.

Major Concepts Explained by this Theory are as Follows:

Internal Vital Force: As a result of a pre - existing inner vital force, all living things and their component parts are steadily increasing in number and size.

Effect of Environment and New Needs: Environment acts as an influential factor in all types of organisms, and a simple environmental change tends to bring about significant changes in organisms. It also gives rise to new needs that can over time create new systems and alter the organism's habits.

Use and Disuse of Organs: If an organ is used constantly, it will progressively develop over time where the disuse of an organ results in its degeneration.

Inheritance of Acquired Characters: As a result of the internal vital force listed above, individuals acquire characters and features during lifetime. These will eventually pass to generations to come. This whole process will continue, and these variations will accumulate to a certain degree after several generations, creating new species.

Example: Evolution of Giraffe

Originally the giraffe's ancestors had a small neck and forelimbs and looked like horses. But since they lived in places without any vegetation on the surface, they had to stretch out their neck and forelimbs to pick leaves to eat, resulting in a slight elongation of these parts.

Those beneficial characteristics, however, passed over time from generation to generation and ultimately resulted in a species with long neck and forelimbs.

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Difference Between Darwinism and Lamarckism


Darwinism: Darwinism suggests that all species of organisms arise and develop by natural selection of small and hereditary variations which enhance an individual's ability to compete, survive and reproduce.

Lamarckism: Lamarckism is based on new desires that generate new structures and change organismal habits over time.


Darwinism: Darwinism does not believe in the concept of the internal vital force explained in Lamarckism.

Lamarckism: Lamarckism refuses to accept Darwin 's natural theory of selection.

Struggle for Existence & Survival of the Fittest

Darwinism: Two major factors mentioned in Darwinism are the battle for life and survival of the fittest.

Lamarckism: Lamarckism does not recognize struggle for life and survival of the fittest.


Darwinism: Only useful variations will be translated over successive generations, according to Darwinism.

Lamarckism: Lamarckism proposes that the next generation inherit all of the acquired characters.



This theory was anticipated by Jean Baptiste de Lamarck.

This theory was anticipated by Charles Darwin.

Individual population has identical characteristics. Individuals can make a difference.

The interbreeding population of individuals always has similar characteristics with certain variability. Individuals are eternal. The population will turn itself.

Internal drive towards greater complexity, influenced by the inheritance of properties acquired. Variations are tailored to the needs of the organism.

Variation does exist regardless of the condition of the organism.

Eg: The long neck of a giraffe.

Eg: Keen eyesight of the hawk.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is Lamarck's Theory?

Answer: Lamarckism, an evolutionary theory based on the principle that physical changes in organisms could be transferred to their offspring over their lifetime — such as greater development of an organ or a component through increased use.

Q2. Why is Darwin's Theory Better than Lamarck's?

Answer: In doing so, Lamarck believed that each generation would grow their necks slightly longer and pass that trait onto their offspring. (See this paper in the journal Genetics for a much deeper history of Lamarck's theories of evolution.) In contrast, Darwin believed in evolutionary theory through natural selection.

Q3. What was Darwin's Theory on Giraffes?

Answer: As for the giraffe example, Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection would imply that by chance a giraffe was born with a longer neck. Access to more food allowed the giraffe to live longer and breed more, eventually leading to more long - necked giraffes.

Q4. Is Lamarck's Theory Accepted Today?

Answer: Now it's commonly accepted that the theories of Lamarck were incorrect.