Where’d Hugo Go?

Dutch botanist Hugo de Vries was once one of the most famous scientists in the world. De Vries gained worldwide attention in the first decades of the twentieth century as the guy who finally figured out how evolution worked.

Of course today we credit Darwin for this discovery, and backdate it to the publication of Origin of Species in 1859. But for many decades, into the 1930s in fact, Darwin’s theory of natural selection was considered insufficient (See Bowler, 1992). In the minds of many, De Vries’ idea completed the story of evolution.

Evolution of an Icon

The “Nervous Icon” has mesmerized me for nearly three years (see Parts I, II and III). I first spotted the image in the early textbooks of George W. Hunter, including A Civic Biology (1914), famous as the central exhibit in the Scopes trial. It stood out because it gave off such a curiously anachronistic aura…