Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS (4 May 1825 – 29 June 1895) was an English biologist (anatomist), known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Huxley's famous 1860 debate with Samuel Wilberforce was a key moment in the wider acceptance of evolution, and in his own career. Huxley had been planning to leave Oxford on the previous day, but, after an encounter with Robert Chambers, the author of Vestiges, he changed his mind and decided to join the debate. Wilberforce was coached by Richard Owen, against whom Huxley also debated whether humans were closely related to apes.

Huxley was slow to accept some of Darwin's ideas, such as gradualism, and was undecided about natural selection, but despite this he was wholehearted in his public support of Darwin. He was instrumental in developing scientific education in Britain, and fought against the more extreme versions of religious tradition.

In 1869 Huxley coined the term 'agnostic' to describe his own views on theology, a term whose use has continued to the present day (see Thomas Henry Huxley and agnosticism).

Huxley had little formal schooling and taught himself almost everything he knew. He became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist of the latter 19th century. He worked on invertebrates, clarifying relationships between groups previously little understood. Later, he worked on vertebrates, especially on the relationship between apes and humans. After comparing Archaeopteryx with Compsognathus, he concluded that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs, a theory widely accepted today.

The tendency has been for this fine anatomical work to be overshadowed by his energetic and controversial activity in favour of evolution, and by his extensive public work on scientific education, both of which had significant effects on society in Britain and elsewhere.

Read more about Thomas Henry HuxleyDarwin's Bulldog, The X Club, Educational Influence, Huxley and The Humanities, Royal and Other Commissions, Family, Satires, Literature, Film Etc.

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Famous quotes containing the words thomas henry huxley, huxley and/or thomas:

    The population question is the real riddle of the sphinx, to which no political Oedipus has as yet found the answer. In view of the ravages of the terrible monster over-multiplication, all other riddle sink into insignificance.
    Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–95)

    I have always been, am, and propose to remain a mere scholar. All that I have ever proposed to myself is to say, this and this I have learned; thus and thus have I learned it; go thou and learn better; but do not thrust on my shoulders the responsibility for your own laziness if you elect to take, on my authority, conclusions the value of which you ought to have tested for yourself.
    —Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–95)

    It’s that—the thought of the few, simple things we want and the knowledge that we’re going to get them in spite of you know Who and His spites and tempers—that keeps us living I think.
    —Dylan Thomas (1914–1953)