2.2 Scientific Theories
A geologist finds the fossil of a species of fish in one stratum, but not in the stratum above the fossil. How would Cuvier explain this observation?
Cuvier would have suggested the species of fish had become extinct, possibly due to a natural catastrophe, such as a flood or a volcanic eruption.
How did Lyell's observations about changes in geology inspire naturalists to think about changes in life on Earth?
Lyell rejected the idea of catastrophism and guessed that Earth changed slowly and continuously over time. His idea also suggested that Earth was older than 6,000 years. He believed that slow, continuous change would amount to large changes over time. This influenced other thinkers, such as Charles Darwin, who wondered if the same sort of processes and timelines were also occurring in populations.