Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950565 | Print ISBN: 9780761928201 | Online ISBN: 9781412950565| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Gary Greenberg & Victoria Mosack
The idea in evolutionary thinking that embryological development reflects an ordered evolutionary sequence is known as recapitulation . While this idea was somewhat embraced by Darwin, it had its origins long before Darwin's ideas of evolution surfaced (Gould, 1977). The most famous of the recapitulation theorists was Ernst Haeckel, who in 1866 gave currency to the biogenetic law we have come to summarize as “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” It is, of course, now known that Haeckel erred in formulating this so-called law. Indeed, some hold that he deliberately falsified his reports. Today it is recognized that during development, the embryo indeed shows features characteristic of earlier evolved forms, but not in a true evolutionary sequence; hence, it is safe to say that while not true in the form originally proposed by Haeckel (and later modified by von Baer; see Gould, 1977), the biogenetic law still has general acceptance in biology and ...