Professor Lynn Margulis honored by Linnean Society of London with 2008 Darwin-Wallace Medal

The Darwin-Wallace Medals are awarded at 50-year intervals since 1858 to mark the anniversary of the reading of the joint Darwin-Wallace paper “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection”.  Medalists are outstanding scientists who have made significant advances in the study of natural history and evolution.

Prof. Margulis joins a distinguished recipients that include among others Alfred Russel Wallace and Ernst Haeckel in 1908; J.B.S. Haldane, Ernst Mayer, Julian Huxley, and G. Gaylord Simpson in 1958.  This year’s recipeints included among others Stephen Jay Gould FRS and John Maynard Smith FRS, FLS. 

Two sides of the Darwin-Wallace Medal are shown on the cover of the Linnean Society of London’s award ceremony program.

Margulis and friends viewed  Wm Smith’s “map that changed the world” during a visit to The Geographical Society in London.(Left to right) Frank Ryan MD (author), Prof. Lynn Margulis, Prof. John Allen (Queen Mary University of London), Prof. Martin Brasier (Oxford), Andrew Richford (publisher), Robert Sternberg (Imperial College London).

Prof. Lynn Margulis FLS (center) with Sir Crispin Tickell FLS, FRS (left),  former United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations, former United Kingdom Ambassador to Mexico, and former Warden Green College Oxford and Oxford University Professor of Paleontology Martin Brasier (right). The trio celebrates her Darwin-Walace Medal  and the publication of Brasier’s new book “Darwin’s Lost World” at the Linnean Society of London reception.

2008 Darwin-Wallace Medalists pose for a photograph at the end of the award ceremony. Pictured from left to right: Prof. Joseph Felsenstein, Julian Maynard-Smith accepting for his father John Maynard Smith FRS, FLS, Prof. Nicholas Barton FRS, Prof. Mohamed Noor, Prof. Linda Partridge FRS, Prof. Mark Chase FRS, FLS, Prof. Rosemary Grant FRS, Prof. Peter Grant, FRS, FLS, Prof. Lynn Margulis FLS, Prof. H. Allen Orr, Professor James Mallet FLS, Prof. Bryan Clarke FRS, FLS and Prof. David Cutler FLS, President of the Linnean Society of London. The medal was also awarded posthumously to Prof Stephen Jay Gould.

Lynn Margulis shows Peter Raven, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, a picture of Boris Mikhailovich Kozo-Polyansky, author of the book  “Symbiogenesis: The New Principle of Evolution“ written in 1924. The book has just been translated from Russian and edited by Victor Fet, Marshall University, West Virginia.

Download Table of Contents.pdf   Publication Announcement

Updated 01/20/2014

Professor Lynn Marulis spoke at the “Charles Darwin and modern biology” conference in St. Petersburg, Russia on September 23, 2009. The conference was sponsored by the Saint-Petersburg Branch of the Institute of the History of Science and Technology of the Russian Academy of Science. The conference was held to celebrate the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

Professor Margulis, delivered a paper entitled, Symbiogenesis:Source of evolutionary novelty.  She also introduced the English translation of Russian botanist Boris Mikhailovich Kozo-Polyansky’s (1890-1957) 1924 book Symbiogenesis: A New Principle of Evolution by Harvard University Press.

Sputnik, 4 October 1957

On Wednesday July 15th, BBC Radio 4 transmitted “A Life With Microbes” , featuring the work of Professor Margulis. The producer, Paul Evans, interviewed Professor Margulis at the Eastman House, Balliol College, Oxford, UK.  The program on BBC Radio 4 can be listened to online at

LISTEN to the Margulis vs. Dawkins debate on “The Origin of Evolutionary Novelty - a Homage to Charles Darwin”. Held at Oxford University, May 8, 2009.  Load the following URL into your browser and hit return to download

Margulis in Russia

Margulis in United Kingdom

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS to publish first English translation of Boris Mikhailovich Kozo-Polyansky’s 1924 masterpiece  “Symbiogenesis: The New Principle of Evolution

The Margulis Lab is delighted to announce that Harvard University Press will publish Symbiogenesis: A New Principle of Evolution (1924) by the great Russian botanist Boris Mikhailovich Kozo-Polyansky (1890-1957). The book, acquired by editor-in-chief Michael Fisher, will be available, we hope, by spring 2010. The manuscript was translated by bibliophile Victor Fet, Professor of Biology at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia. Fet, an expert on scorpions and their mitochondrial DNA, a poet and writer in both languages, is the perfect translator to have sensitively brought this important, short and entirely accessible scientific gem into English. Conversant with modern zoology, genetics, cell biology and born in Russia as a son of a computer scientist, Fet's early education was in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Kozo-Polyansky first recognized the profound difference between prokaryotes (elements of life) and eukaryotes (symbionts composed of these elements) 3 years before Edouard Chatton coined the terms "procariotíque" and "eucariotíque". The word cell from the late 19th through most of the 20th century meant only "nucleated cell" (=eukaryotic cell); prokaryotes had many names including bacillus, bacterium, bioblast, biococcus, coccus, cyanophyte, cytode, flagellated cytode, micrococcus, moneran and nepheloid that depended on context.


Margulis and Raven replace the author's inadequate drawings with modern micrographs of the symbiotic phenomena he reviewed. Professor Jan Sapp, York niversity, Toronto, the great science historian, scholar of genetics and evolution including microbial evolution, introduces Kozo-Polyansky's ignored achievement in its geographical and historical context with an opening short commentary.  The Kozo-Polyansky book will be entirely relevant to today's story of evolution because of its new stunning micrographs and modern references. We must sadly acknowledge that Kozo-Polyansky was so young when he wrote his masterpiece but lack of response probably led him to abandon all work on symbiogenesis. He turned to botanical research and civic achievement but died long before science, especially in the West, recognized his contribution. Amends will be made as much as possible by Margulis who will receive a Darwin-Wallace medal at the presentation ceremony at the worldwide celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth (Thursday, February 12, 2009). This will take place in the late afternoon at the Linnean Society, Burlington House, Picadilly Circus, London, U.K.

    The Leonardo da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking inducted Dr. Lynn Margulis as a member to recognize her as one of the world's greatest living thinkers.

    Citing her revolutionary work on the origin of nucleated cells (Serial Endosymbiotic Theory) and her collaboration with James Lovelock on Gaia Theory.              Click for more

from the NASA poster above

Symbiosis in Cellular Evolution

In Lynn Margulis’ theory of Endosymbiosis, organelles (compartments within some cells that perform specific functions) originated as separate organisms that were taken inside the cell as endosymbionts. This relationship led to new, “hybrid” organisms with organelles that performed unique, beneficial processes. This division of labor set the stage for the further evolution of complex life.

Co-Evolution of Life and its Environment

James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis was the first conceptualization of how life and its physical environment closely interact, forming an interconnected, complex system. One example of this is how the emergence of photosynthetic organisms caused the dramatic rise of atmospheric oxygen, which permanently changed the surface chemistry and climate of the Earth, thus fueling increased biological diversity. In turn, this diversity has been repeatedly pruned by geological events such as mass extinctions and Snowball Earths.

Chimeras and Consciousness: Evoluion of the Sensory Self published by MIT Press in bookstores now !

Click Here to download the Jones & Bartlett flyer for the 
2nd edition of The Handbook of Protoctista

Lynn Margulis

The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel

Edited by Dorion Sagan

Tireless, controversial, and hugely inspirational to those who knew her or encountered her work, Lynn Margulis was a scientist whose intellectual energy and interests knew no bounds. Best known for her work on the origins of eukaryotic cells, the Gaia hypothesis, and symbiogenesis as a driving force in evolution, her work has forever changed the way we understand life on Earth.

When Margulis passed away in 2011, she left behind a groundbreaking scientific legacy that spanned decades. In this collection, Dorion Sagan, Margulis’s son and longtime collaborator, gathers together the voices of friends and colleagues to remark on her life and legacy, in essays that cover her early collaboration with James Lovelock, her fearless face-off with Richard Dawkins during the so-called “Battle of Balliol” at Oxford, the intrepid application of her scientific mind to the insistence that 9/11 was a false-flag operation, her affinity for Emily Dickinson, and more.

Margulis was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983, received the prestigious National Medal of Science in 1999, and her papers are permanently archived at the Library of Congress. Less than a month before her untimely death, Margulis was named one of the twenty most influential scientists alive— one of only two women on this list, which include such scientists as Stephen Hawking, James Watson, and Jane Goodall.

Earth, Life & System

An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Environment and Evolution

in honor of Lynn Margulis

Texas Tech University

September 13-14, 2012

McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center

17th and University, Lubbock, Texas

click here to download Earth, Life & System flyer

Authors Joan M. Bernhard, Karen L. Casciotti, Matthew R. McIlvin, David J. Beaudoin, Pieter T. Visscher, and Virginia P. Edgcomb dedicated their paper, Potential importance of physiologically diverse benthic foraminifera in sedimentary nitrate storage and respiration, in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 117, 2012 to Lynn Margulis.  The acknowlegements read,  “We dedicate this manuscript to the memory of pioneering evolutionary theorist Lynn Margulis, who would have appreciated the physiologic plasticity of this protist taxon. We thank the captain and crew of the RV Robert Gordon Sproul, all science parties who helped to collect samples, Sam Bowser for enlightening us about Pierce’s antibiotic cocktail, Edward Leadbetter for helpful comments on the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft. This research was supported by NSF grant EF-0702491 to JMB, KLC, and VPE.”

Researchers dedicate foraminifera paper to Lynn Margulis

Boston University honors the 50-year career of teacher/evolutionist Lynn Margulis at the 7th International Symbiosis Society Congress (ISS) in Krakow, Poland

Professor Doug Zook and Boston University created this display in honor of Lynn Margulis, a founder of the ISS. The display, which includes a full collection of all of her books that future students and scholars will be able to access, is now a permanent tribute corner of the Boston University School of Education library.  Professor Zook, who taught Environmental Evolution at BU, wrote the text, emphasizing her frequent collaboration with him at the School of Education, especially in the 1990's through their Microcosmos Program for teachers.  Click here to download the 36x48 poster in .pdf

    Two “manifestos” signal paradigm shift from the neo-Darwinist Modern Synthesis which has dominated biology since the 1930s to a “New Biology” inspired by the life work of the late Distinguished University Professor of Geosciences Lynn Margulis. Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals by Scott F. Gilbert, Jan Sapp, and Alfred Tauber was published in The Quarterly Review of Biology in December 2012. You can read the article online for free here.

Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences by Margaret McFall-Ngai et. al. was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences available here.  You can read a review of the article here.

    Also in the same issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology is the paper The karyomastigont as an evolutionary seme by Michael Chapman and Mark C. Alliegro of the MBL in Woods Hole, MA. Their paper is dedicated to Lynn Margulis “one of the founders and perhaps the foremost exponent of modern Serial Endosymbiotic Theory (SET).”  For those unfamiiiar with the karyomastigont or the idea of an “evolutionary seme” this is a brilliant introduction to both.

Margulis-Inspired “New Biology” Passes Tipping Point:

Overthrows Neo-Darwinism with an Ecological View of  Evolution

The January 2014 cover of Science News is testimony to the arrival of a new view of evolution and biology based on the ideas and science championed by Lynn Margulis.  During Marulis’ extraordinary 50-year career, she was often the subject of ridicule and dismissed, but she has now had the last laugh on her critics and detractors as even they have come to the knowledge that they are communities sharing genomes.