chapter  6
30 Pages

Alternative Explanations and New Generations, 1850–1858

HMS Rattlesnake returned to England in October 1850. Travelling to London, Huxley gave a letter to Owen from his Australian mentor Macleay. Macleay had been one of the rst British researchers to travel to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle a er the war, working with Cuvier, Geo roy St-Hilaire and the entomologist P. A. Latreille.1 e letter was a communication from one patron to another: Macleay would consider any favour Owen did for Huxley as a favour for Macleay himself. He recommended Huxley’s researches and drawings on the ‘lower pelagic animals’ as especially relevant to ‘the subject of your “Parthenogenesis”’. Owen then applied to the Admiralty for another appointment for Huxley in order for the young surgeon to prepare his Rattlesnake materials.2 He saw Huxley as a talented researcher who would advance his own work on parthenogenesis and metagenesis (herea er simply metagenesis). But in the early 1850s Huxley started to turn on him and to subvert metagenesis, as palaetiology spread to a larger community. e rst two thirds of this chapter thus examine the clash of di erent styles of reasoning. is ght occurred between Owen and Huxley over the reality of metagenesis and spermatic force. Huxley rejected spermatic force by denying the validity of Owen’s evidence.