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The inland water fishes of Africa

 | 
Didier Paugy
, 
Christian Levêque
, 
Olga Otero

Diversity of African fish: heritage of evolution

Christian Levêque, Didier Paugy et Jean-françois Agnèse

Résumé

The present African ichthyological fauna took shape over time. It is a biological heritage, the product of a long history of evolution, marked by periods during which life diversified, but also punctuated by dramatic events and major “disasters” that led to the extinction of many species.
Knowledge on the speciation processes for African fishes have seen much progress in recent years, thanks mainly to advances in molecular biology as well as international attention focussing on the East African Great Lakes, where hundreds of endemic Cichlidae species are threatened by extinction even as they represent a unique model for the study of speciation.

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Extrait du texte

Review of theories of evolution

From creationism to transformism

In the early 17th century, scientists viewed organisms as fixed. In accordance with the sacred Judeo-Christian texts, it was believed that the earth had been populated some 6,000 years earlier, and that the living creatures of that time were faithful copies of the ones created by God. This led to the emergence of so-called creationist theories.

Subsequent advances in knowledge rapidly showed that the age of the planet had been vastly underestimated and that flora and fauna had changed considerably over time. Briefly speaking, in the early 19th century, Lamarck questioned the “fixed species” dogma and proposed a new concept, transformism, which upended the prevailing ideas. Lamarck hypothesized that all of an individual’s characters could be transmitted to its offspring, including those it had acquired over its lifetime. This hypothesis, based on the postulate that acquired characters could be passed on, was widely discuss...

Auteurs

Research director at IRD. He has published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris.

Research director at IRD. He has published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris.

© IRD Éditions, 2017

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

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