At the end of the Origin, Darwin declared that “animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors”. Although he barely mentioned the well-worn “origin of life” question, many readers chose to emphasize this point and focused on the number of initial prototypes, and their actual “origin”. Darwin was often compared with another “man of genius”, the French supporter of spontaneous generation, Félix Archimède Pouchet, whose Hétérogénie, ou traité de la génération spontanée was published in France in 1858. Others, like Henry Charlton Bastian, asked whether natural selection operated in the original plasma.