Blumenbach, Haeckel, Dobzhansky

less than 1 minute read

Here’s an illustration of the history of biology:

Google ngram comparison of Blumenbach, Haeckel, and Dobzhansky

This is an ngram comparison, which counts the occurrences of the terms (in this case, Blumenbach, Haeckel, and Dobzhansky) in books published across all these years, and compares those to the total number of words published in those years.

There’s only so far one can go with “one-name” figures in biology, and as we get closer to the present it is harder to find “one-name” figures whose last names aren’t shared with other moderately famous personages. If we expand to some other names, Linnaeus outscales Blumenbach by a lot, and Darwin dwarfs all these in references. Even before Charles Darwin’s lifetime, “Darwin” as a one-name term does very well, on the strength of earlier family members including Erasmus Darwin. Literary figures do much better than biologists.