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History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Vol. 32, no. 4 (2010)
Article

David W˙ss Rudge, Tut-tut Tutt, Not so Fast. Did Kettlewell Really Test Tutt’s Explanation of Industrial Melanism?


Abstract

Over the past fifty years a legend has developed surrounding H.B.D. Kettlewell’s pioneering research on the phenomenon of industrial melanism as illustrated in the peppered moth, Biston betularia. This legend is particularly pernicious in that it unfairly diminishes Kettlewell’s intellectual involvement in the work for which he is most famous (Rudge 2006). One of the most persistent allegations made is that Kettlewell’s published work neglects or ignores his debt to J.W. Tutt, identified as the first to propose the explanation of industrial melanism at issue in Kettlewell’s original investigations (Owen 1997). The following essay first examines whether J.W. Tutt was indeed the first to explain the phenomenon of industrial melanism in terms of differential bird predation and the long term effects of air pollution, before considering further whether J.W. Tutt’s explanation was, in point of fact, the explanation at issue in Kettlewell’s investigations.


Keywords

Controversies, E.B. Ford, H.B.D. Kettlewell, ecological genetics, J.W. Tutt, industrial melanism, priority


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