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Fleeming Jenkin was appointed by Queen Victoria as the first Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. He is now best known for raising an important objection to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. In 1867 Jenkin argued that any favourable mutation that arose in one individual of a species would be rapidly swamped by interbreeding with a large population of normal individuals. This argument depended on the belief that characteristics of parents were simply ‘blended’ in the offspring. The rise of modern genetics, which invalidated the ‘blending’ model of inheritance, eventually resolved this problem, but it presented a serious problem for Darwin’s theory at the time.
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