Exorcising the spectre of Haeckel again

In the comments, Art Hunt passes along a short analysis from Patrick Frank of the instances of Haeckel’s work in a number of biology texts from 1923 to 1997. Even the oldest was critical of Haeckelian recapitulation, and only a minority used Haeckel’s figure at all.

I looked at 15 books in total. Where Haeckel’s drawings appeared, that fact is noted. Where comment on Haeckel or his law is given, I have quoted the text faithfully, or in one case summarized, to give the flavor of the commentary.

Of the 15 books, only 5 show Haeckel’s drawings, two in whole, three in part.

Of those 5, only one presents the biogenetic law uncritically, and that book is the 1937 H. C. Skinner, T. Smith, F. M. Wheat “Textbook in Educational Biology”.

The other 4 of these 5, along with another 7 that actually mention Haeckel, either dismiss Haeckel’s laws as crude or incorrect, or else critique them in the sense that embryos resemble one another at early stages, but that adaptational pressures have obscured or removed most of the similarities.

Four textbooks didn’t mention Haeckel at all, or the biogenetic theory.

The first three entries below, arranged by ascending publication date, are among Pepcis’ list, though the last two are later editions.

Note that not one of the three support Pepcis’ accusation of fraud propagation. In every case, Haeckel’s law is critiqued, and Storer, et al. end with “Thus there is no precise recapitulation.”

Notice also that even texts written in the 1920’s discussed the biogenetic law critically, noting the adaptationist pressures on embryos as causative of differentiation among them. That means even before the 1960 date shouted by Pepcis, the biogenetic law was under general critical review in biology.

In all cases, even where Haeckel’s drawings appear, the representation of what they indicate is critically given and the biogenetic law is rejected as either wrong or a crude approximation.

There is a clear distinction to be made, therefore, between the presentation of Haeckel’s drawings and the propagation of a myth, most especially deceitful myth, about them.

There is no apparent evidence of a conspiracy to deceive or of a propagation of myth about Haeckel or his law among biologists.

However, evidently the reverse is true among creationists, since the evidence doesn’t support their claim. Meaning either they didn’t research the evidence (as Pepcis clearly did not), or else they LIED about it.

One last comment: In Simpson’s book, item number 11 below, I have included their footnote 8. In that footnote, they explicitly state that one of two reasons why they are discussing Haeckel’s law at all is because some mention of it still occurred in biology and they wanted to be sure that students understood that it is incorrect. Very damaging evidence of a conspiracy to deceive, that.

Here are the findings and emphases were in the originals:

    E. O. Dodson “Evolution: Process and Product” (Reinhold Pub., 1960)

    p. 46, 47 include Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 45: “Ernst Haeckel brought this field into prominence in the immediate post-Darwinian period with his Biogenetic Law, which states that “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny”. He believed that embryonic states corresponded to ancestral adults. … Recapitulation does occur, but not as Haeckel thought, for resemblances are chiefly between embryos, not embryos and adults, and embryos, too, have adaptive problems.”

    P. 51, under the heading: “Difficulties of the Biogenetic Law: “[T]here was much unsound biology associated with the Biogenetic Law, and few aspects of evolutionary science have been so heavily attacked in recent years. The reasons are simple enough. The recapitulation theory assumes that embryos need only repeat the past … Actually embryos must cope with a hostile environment even as do adults. … [M]utations can effect embryonic as well as
    adult stages, and these, too, are subject to natural selection, so that embryonic adaptations become part of the normal pattern of development.”

  1. T. I. Storer, R. C. Stebbins, R. L. Usinger and J. W. Nybakken “General Zoology” 6th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 1979)

    p. 270 shows Haeckel’s drawings for fish, chicken and human.

    p. 271 “The theory of recapitulation, or biogenetic “law”, of Haeckel (1834-1919) stated that an individual organism in its development (ontogeny) tends to recapitulate, or repeat, the stages passed through by its ancestors (phylogeny). Von Baer’s “laws” provide a more accurate statement. The pattern of embryonic development in a group of related animals may contain features reflecting their past, but many innovations are superimposed that often
    obscure the ancestral pattern, Thus there is no precise recapitulation.”

  2. Charles Darwin “The Illustrated Origin of Species” Abridged and edited by Richard Leakey (Hill and Wang, Pub., 1979)

    p. 213 shows Haeckel’s drawings of dog, bat, rabbit and human are shown.

    The legend to that picture is: “Embryos of the dog, bat, rabbit and man, at three stages in their development, as illustrated by Ernst Haeckel in 1891. Only in the final stages do the embryos reveal their identity. Darwin correctly surmised that this is because the mutations that produced the changes between them during their evolution tended to be late-acting. Haeckel, on the other hand, formulated the misleading dogma that every individual must
    go through the whole evolutionary process of its species during its development, or “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”

  3. L. L. Woodruff “Foundations of Biology” (The Macmillan Co., 1923)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 364 provides evidence supporting the “… so-called Recapitulation Theory or Biogenetic Law”. However, the discussion is reasoned in terms of supporting data, including examples of the embryonic transition from as 2-chambered heart (as in fish) through a 3-chambered heart (as in reptiles) to a 4-chambered heart (as in birds and mammals), progressive development of the neural tube to the brain, and so forth.

    Also, a comparative illustration of three embryos at an equivalent stage of development is shown for fish, bird, and human. However, they are not Haeckel’s drawings.

  4. W. M. Smallwood “A Textbook of Biology” (Lea & Febiger, Pub. 1924)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings and no mention of Haeckel or biogenetic theory, recapitulation theory, or law of phylogenesis at all.

  5. G. G. Scott “The Science of Biology” (Thomas Y. Crowell, Pub. 1925):

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings:

    P. 410: “Haeckel, in 1874, accepted this [biogenetic] theory completely. It is known as Recapitulation Theory or Law of Phylogenesis, which is that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny – that is an animal in its development goes through stages indicating or representing its ancestors … [discussion of the theory follows] … Though there is some truth in this theory, yet embryological history does not show all details of ancestral
    history. Special conditions of development necessitate special structures … The application of the so-called law of phylogenesis is limited indeed.”

    P. 526: “…[S]ome enthusiasts like Haeckel applied this so-called law [of Phylogenesis] too widely…”

  6. W. J. Dakin “The Elements of General Zoology” (Oxford U. Press, 1927)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings and no mention of Haeckel at all in the book, no mention of biogenetic law or law of phylogenesis.

  7. H. C. Skinner, T. Smith, F. M. Wheat “Textbook in Educational Biology” (American Book Co., 1937)

    p. 396 Includes Haeckel’s drawings.

    “About sixty years ago, Ernst Haeckel stated “Ontogeny is a short recapitulation of phylogeny”. This means an individual is a brief resume of the evolution if its race.”

    (This is the only text I found uncritically accepting of Haeckel’s law)

  8. R. R. Erlich and R. W. Holm “The Process of Evolution” (McGraw-Hill) 1963.

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 66 under the heading “Modification of the Developmental System”: “Of all the phenomena of morphogenesis, none has received more attention from evolutionists than so-called recapitulation … [i.e.,] each organism goes through a condensed version of its phylogenetic history … This generalization was originally called the biogenetic law by Haeckel and is often stated as “ontogeny recapitulations phylogeny”. This crude interpretation of
    embryological sequences will not stand close examination however. Its shortcomings have been almost universally pointed out by modern authors, but the idea still has a prominent place in biological mythology.”

  9. T. J. Parker & W. A. Haswell “A Text-book of Zoology” (Macmillan & Co.) 6th ed. 1964.

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 2 contains the only mention of the biogenetic law in the book: “‘Ontogeny,’, wrote Garstang in 1922 (in reference to … the so-called Biogenetic ‘Law’ of Haeckel) ‘does not recapitulate Phylogeny: it creates it.'”

  10. George Simpson & William S. Beck “Life: An Introduction to Biology” (Harcourt, Brace & World Pub., 1965)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 240, under the heading “Supposed Recapitulation”: “Early evolutionists, especially E. H. Haeckel (1834-1919) rephrased that generalization as the principle of recapitulation: “ontogeny repeats phylogeny” … It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny. [footnote 8]”

    Footnote 8: “You may well ask why we bother with principles that turned out to be wrong. There are two reasons. In the first place belief in recapitulation became so widespread that it is still evident in some writings about biology and evolution. You should therefore know it does not really occur. In the second place, this is a good example of how scientific knowledge is gained. Von Baer and Haeckel were not flatly or wholly wrong. They made
    successive approximations to truth, and our present closer approximation is based on their accumulation of facts and attempts at explanation.”

  11. C. A. Villee and V. G. Dethier “Biological Principles and Processes” (W. B. Saunders Co., Pub., 1976)

    p. 295 shows Haeckel’s drawings of fish, chick, pig, and human.

    p. 295: “… Ernst Haeckel in 1866 … developed his theory that embryos, in the course of development, repeat the evolutionary history of their ancestors in some abbreviated form. This idea, succinctly stated as “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” stimulated research in embryology… It is now clear that the embryos of the higher animals resemble the embryos of lower forms, not the adults, as Haeckel believed.

    [In recapitulation, however] the embryo eliminates some steps and alters or distorts others … The concept of recapitulation must be used with due caution, but it can be helpful in understanding … curious and complex patterns of development.”

  12. W. L. Smallwood & P. Alexander “Biology” (Silver Burdett Co., Pub., 1981)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings, no mention of Haeckel, the biogenetic law, or recapitulation theory in embryos.

    I must say, though, that the book devotes only 2 pages to evolution and looks like a really poor text book.

  13. W. K. Purves, G. H. Orians & H. C. Heller “Life: the science of biology” (Sinauer Assoc., W. H. Freeman Pub., 1992)

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings, no mention of Haeckel, no mention of biogenetic law.

    This text book looks excellent and is heavy on evolution. One entire chapter is devoted to embryology and animal development, but no mention at all of the biogenetic law.

  14. C. P. Hickman, jr., L. S. Roberts, A. Larson “Integrated Principles of Zoology” (Wm. C. Brown, Pub., 1997) 10th ed.

    No inclusion of Haeckel’s drawings.

    p. 161, under the heading “Ontogeny, Phylogeny and Recapitulation”: “… Haeckel gave his generalization: ontogeny (individual development) recapitulates (repeats) phylogeny (evolutionary descent). This notion became known simply as recapitulation or the biogenetic law. Haeckel based his biogenetic law on the flawed premise that evolutionary change occurs by successively adding stages onto the end of an unaltered ancestral ontogeny…”

    Pictures of embryos of fish, bird, reptile and human are given showing similarities among them, but the drawings are not Haeckel’s.

There’s also a very good comment from Ahcuah, who found a high school biology text from 1968, part of the famous BCCS series. Here’s what it says about recapitulation:

Embryology also gives us clues to paths of evolution. The similarities of embryological development among multicellular animals were intensively studied during the latter half of the nineteenth century. These studies led to the conclusion that the embryonic development of the individual repeated the evolutionary history of the race. Thus, it was thought to be possible to trace the evolutionary history of a species by a study of its embryonic development. This idea was so attractive as to gain the status of a biological principle.

Today the idea of embryonic resemblances is viewed with caution. We can see and demonstrate similarities between embryos of related groups, as shown in Figure 31-13. However, while a certain amount of recapitulation is unquestioned, the old idea that a human passes through fish, amphibian, and reptile stages during embryonic development is not correct.

At this point, I’d say Jonathan Wells’ claim is pretty much dead. Haeckel’s work is not one of the pillars upon which evolution is built, and biologists have been saying so for at least 85 years (and more like over a century). Next time one of those clowns tries to haunt modern biology with the ghost of Ernst Haeckel, just look ’em in the eye and tell them they’re full of crap.


  1. #1 Ed Darrell
    February 10, 2007

    Typical science stuff: You expect the data to speak for itself. Who are Art Hunt and Pat Frank?

    Yeah, anybody could have checked — but Pat actually did. That’s what distinguishes the true scientist from the armchair nutjob, or professor of philosophy at some theological institute.

  2. #2 Andrew
    February 10, 2007

    Talk.Origins reference: Did any of these books have an Orange cover?

  3. #3 guthrie
    February 10, 2007

    By coincidence, I think I can add another data point.
    A Creationist/ ID’er here in the UK said on their blog:
    “More detail about the post below … and yes, my copy of Alberts et al. “Molecular Biology of the Cell” does indeed have a diagram “After Haeckel”, and it says of the diagram: “The early stages are closely similar”.”

    As it happens, I have the third edition, 1994 version of this textbook. I can find no mention of Haeckel or his embryos. Then today I was looking through an Oxfam bookshop, and found the first edition, from 1983. This did have mention of said Haeckel and a drawing of his embryos, but I neglected to check the text for the exact wording of reference to the embryos.
    But clearly the evil Darwinist conspiracy has covered its tracks by removing mention of Haeckel from later textbooks.

  4. #4 Colugo
    February 10, 2007

    Scott F. Gilbert has discussed how Haeckel deviated from Darwinism and contradicted Baer, as well as the rejection of the Biogenetic Law by biologists in the period from the 1890s on.

    Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 8th edition: ‘Ernst Haeckel and the Biogenetic Law’

    “In such a view [Haeckel’s law of terminal addition] , humans evolved when the embryo of the next highest ape added a new stage. This provided a linear, not a branching, phylogeny. This is a critically important departure from what we usually consider as Darwinian evolution. … This notion of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny was not Darwinism. In fact, Haeckel’s synthesis was an attempt to fuse the works of Darwin, Lamarck, and Goethe. … Interestingly, von Baer (1828) had disproven the “biogenetic law” before Haeckel ever invented it. …

    Eventually, the Biogenetic Law had become scientifically untenable. (The revolt against this “law” was started in the mid-1890s by the British embryologist, Adam Sedgwick, who noted the accumulation of exceptions to this “rule” and was able to reinterpret older results without recourse to it. … By 1922, Walter Garstang could provide a more sophisticated analysis of the relationship between evolution and development, showing that alterations in development could produce evolutionary changes.)”

    Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental Biology, 8th edition: ‘Haeckel and the Vertebrate Archetype’

    “K. E. von Baer had noted that the general features of a large group of animals appear earlier in the embryo than do the specialized features. Indeed, von Baer wrote: “The embryo of the mammal, bird, lizard, and snake and probably also the turtle, are in their early stages so uncommonly similar to one another that one can distinguish them only according to their size. …” Darwin quoted this (it was Thomas Huxley’s translation) although he misattributed the story to Agassiz rather than to von Baer … The notion of development proposed by von Baer is still used as a general approximation of certain developmental phenomena.”

  5. #5 windy
    February 10, 2007

    Colugo quotes Gilbert:

    “In such a view [Haeckel’s law of terminal addition], humans evolved when the embryo of the next highest ape added a new stage. This provided a linear, not a branching, phylogeny. This is a critically important departure from what we usually consider as Darwinian evolution.”

    This representation doesn’t seem fair considering that Haeckel is often credited with drawing the first detailed branching phylogenies! (not counting Darwin’s few squiggles).

    He was wrong about *how* evolution adds new characters, but adding characters in a linear fashion can still produce a branching phylogeny as opposed to a “ladder of life”. Like ancestral and derived characteristics in modern cladograms.

  6. #6 Colugo
    February 10, 2007

    Dayrat, Benoit
    The roots of phylogeny: How did Haeckel build his trees?
    Systematic Biology, Volume 52, Number 4, August 2003, pp. 515-527(13)

    “Haeckel created much of our current vocabulary in evolutionary biology, such as the term phylogeny, which is currently used to designate trees. Assuming that Haeckel gave the same meaning to this term, one often reproduces Haeckel’s trees as the first illustrations of phylogenetic trees. A detailed analysis of Haeckel’s own evolutionary vocabulary and theory revealed that Haeckel’s trees were genealogical trees and that Haeckel’s phylogeny was a morphological concept. However, phylogeny was actually the core of Haeckel’s tree reconstruction, and understanding the exact meaning Haeckel gave to phylogeny is crucial to understanding the information Haeckel wanted to convey in his famous trees. Haeckel’s phylogeny was a linear series of main morphological stages along the line of descent of a given species. The phylogeny of a single species would provide a trunk around which lateral branches were added as mere ornament; the phylogeny selected for drawing a tree of a given group was considered the most complete line of progress from lower to higher forms of this group, such as the phylogeny of Man for the genealogical tree of Vertebrates. Haeckel’s phylogeny was mainly inspired by the idea of the scala naturae, or scale of being. Therefore, Haeckel’s genealogical trees, which were only branched on the surface, mainly represented the old idea of scale of being. Even though Haeckel decided to draw genealogical trees after reading On the Origin of Species and was called the German Darwin, he did not draw Darwinian branching diagrams. Although Haeckel always saw Lamarck, Goethe, and Darwin as the three fathers of the theory of evolution, he was mainly influenced by Lamarck and Goethe in his approach to tree reconstruction.”

  7. #7 Lago
    February 10, 2007

    Writing fast so please ignore my poor ass writing..

    Me is going to try and make this as simple as possible without generalizing in such a way as to develop a falsehood. Ok, here I go

    Haeckel saw, what many did, as, in most cases, as an embryo develops, the more specific aspects that we use to distinguish one species from another, develop later, rather than earlier. Darwin pointed this out as well asking people to consider how hard it is to tell different breeds of dogs apart as pups, as compared to adults.

    Haeckel saw this as evidence for a ladder type development, where progress is stacked in such a way that older shared stages precede stages that distinguish on group from another, as well as one species from another etc…

    Haeckel called this Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, where fish have a few stages where the last is their fish stage, and amphibians have the fish stages as well, but the amphibian stage on top of that, and so on and so on. This leaves us with Fish going through the fish stage, then the amphibians going through the fish-amphibian stage, on after another, and the reptiles going through the fish-amphibian-reptile stages, and mammals going through the fish-amphibian-reptile-mammal stages.

    Creationists are correct and many people were taught such BS, where bio teachers, as well as psychology teachers, and others, teach about our “reptile brain” and so on. However, evolutionary biologists on the majority side knew Haeckel recapitulation ideas were a simplistic interpretation of the events.

    In reality, Ontogeny does not repeat Phylogeny, but rather, Ontogeny repeats the ontogeny of Phylogeny with selected variation over time. One can argue that the base structure of an organism needs to be developed first, as going with the tried and true, before later, smaller variations can be selected for. This leaves us with changes occurring more often at the end of development, which gives the appearance, over time, of the “stacking” I mentioned above, where fish stages precede amphibian stages, and amphibian stages precede reptile stages. This is, however, all smoke an mirror based on probability, as in it could be argued, as I mentioned above, that later stage developments, after the foundation work has been set, are more likely to stick, and therefor accumulate. This is analogous to one building a house, where adding different windows and doors, as well as paint, is far easier to add at the end rather than changes that one might try earlier on.

    One thing one must remember, when dealing with the above analogy, is that, where one builds is not all the same, and changes in the laying down of the foundation also need to be considered. With vertebrates, the foundation, in many ways can be seen as to Yolk levels, which can cause string selection events in early development. The fact that these occur basically wipes out Haeckel main premise of stacking of stages over time as how one evolves.

    In reality, we evolve by variations (mutations that effect how we develop) in development, and due to statistical probabilities, earlier stages are kept, either more often, or, over larger area of phylogenic diversification . This gives us the appearance, at a simple glance anyways, of a Recapitulation of phylogeny during ontogeny, but in reality, what is occuring is a repeating of ontogeny of phylogeny, with the selection for favored variations.

    In the end, the Creationist/ID people are just trying to muddy this issue for people with little knowledge in the field of developmental biology. This is because the evidence for evolution in that field, is simply abundant to say the least.

  8. #8 Charlie B.
    February 10, 2007

    Guthrie: Second edition of Alberts (1989) in my lap. Page 31, figure 1-36. “Comparison of the embryonic development of a fish, an amphibian, a bird, and a mammal. The early stages (above) are very similar; the later stages (below) are more divergent. The earliest stages are drawn roughtly to scale; the later stages are not. (After E. Haeckel, Anthropogenie… …1874.)” and the accompanying paragraph in the main text expands on this: “Furthermore, the early developmental stages of animals whose adult forms appear radically different are often surprisingly similar; it takes an expert eye to distinguish, for example, a young chick embryo from a young human embryo (Figure 1-36)”

    So, it says they’re similar. Well, they are. One line in a diagram text, which is qualified in the main text, in an 18-year old text book on cell biology, not even mainstream evolution, hardly rocks the theory to the core. And Haeckel doesn’t rate a mention in the index. Nor does recapitulation.

  9. #9 Colugo
    February 10, 2007

    “In the end, the Creationist/ID people are just trying to muddy this issue for people with little knowledge in the field of developmental biology.”

    Precisely. To suggest that Haeckel’s incorrect ideas are currently followed is a grotesque distortion of contemporary evolutionary biology. In addition, this flogging Haeckel’s corpse reveals a warped understanding of the nature and history of scientific progress. Darwin himself was wrong about “gemmules” and a few other things. Big deal. Even Newton didn’t get everything right. Scientists are not gods nor angels. Religious fundamentalists seek truth from supposedly “infallible” divinely inspired texts, and call foul on science when particular scientific theories turn out not to be inerrant writings on stone and individual scientists are revealed to be flawed human beings rather than the embodiment of objective Truth. But science isn’t like that at all. In fact, science evolves.

    To attack evolutionary biology or evo devo by evoking Haeckel is like asserting that chemistry is invalid because many of Paracelsus’ ideas were wrong. Actually, it’s worse.

    Balfour, Garstang and de Beer: The First Century of Evolutionary Embryology
    Brian K. Hall
    American Zoologist 2000 40(5):718-728

    “Today many assume that 19th-century embryologists all followed von Baer and Haeckel in regarding early development as immutable–as not subject to any change either ontogenetic or phylogenetic. This assumption is incorrect; a number of German embryologists saw early development as subject to change. Indeed, a number, including Balfour, Wilhelm Roux and August Weismann, perceived the hand of natural selection early in embryonic stages …

    Although Garstang’s first published volley against the Biogenetic Law was in an address to the Linnean Society in 1922 (in which he coined the now famous phrase “ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny: it creates it,” p. 81), his ideas were fully worked out earlier.”

  10. #10 Charlie B.
    February 10, 2007

    Just had a look in Evolution 1st Edition (Mark Ridley, Blackwell, 1993), and he does discuss recapitulation as Haeckel saw it over a couple of paragraphs. Then the next one after those starts “What actually happens is…” and follows with a nice discussion of development as we understood it in the early 90s.

  11. #11 attotheobscure
    February 10, 2007

    Why no mention of Bruce Alberts’s textbook, Molecular biology of the cell, (New York : Garland Pub.)? I’ve watched the cheesy DI video, and was hoping for a complete rebuke of Luskin. How can this post claim to be a refutation if it doesn’t address the Alberts text book issue?

  12. #12 Ichthyic
    February 10, 2007

    holy crap that is about the dumbest thing you could have possibly said, given the content of the thread you posted it in.


  13. #13 Scott Hatfield
    February 10, 2007

    As luck would have it, I have a scheduled takedown tomorrow of a Wells enthusiast in a book discussion group at my county library. This will come in handy.

    Thanks, PZ!

  14. #14 attotheobscure
    February 10, 2007

    You mean the thread following a post claiming that: 1. Haekel’s work only rarely appears in biology textbooks and 2. when it does appear it is critically treated. The post then rests on an examination of 15 author-selected textbooks all of which agree with his claim. I then rewatch the DI video to double check whether the textbook’s Luskin uses are covered in the above list and quickly discover that the main text shown in the video, Alberts, isn’t in the list. Listen, I know this is a manufactured issue on the part of the DI crowd. But this posts failure to mention Alberts is a gaping hole that really minimizes the entire efficacy of its ultimate claim. The original post is a response to the lame DI video, I think it is reasonable to want to know how honest Luskin is about a central text in that video and not 15 other textbooks he doesn’t use.

    Listen, I know this is a manufactured and irrelevant issue on the part of the DI crowd. Thanks for for calling my inquiry dumb. My criticism of how effective it is as an intended rebuttal to Luskin’s video aren’t intended to bolster his false issue. However, tt really reflects poorly on you personally.

  15. #15 PZ Myers
    February 10, 2007

    Look up there at #8. The mention in Alberts is minimal to the point of triviality; it does not endorse recapitulation, but merely points out that there is similarity at an early stage. If you’re at all familiar with that rather standard text, you’ll also know that the title is accurate, and this really isn’t a book about development, nor is it really an introductory biology text.

    The whole problem here is that Wells takes any mention of Haeckel as an indictment, no matter what the book goes on to say about him or his ideas. If he’s going to pick on Alberts, why not instead discuss Raff’s Shape of Life, which says quite a bit about Haeckel’s work, and even uses a version of the infamous figure on the cover? Is it because Raff takes a deeply critical view of Haeckel’s explanation, but goes in depth on the actuality of the phenomenon and discusses evolutionary mechanisms behind it?

  16. #16 Randy
    February 10, 2007

    Regarding Alberts book (3rd edition). It may have been popular, but having been forced to use it for 4 years in teaching Mol. Bio and Cell Bio (the others profs wanted it), I just have to say IT SUCKED as text book (It suffers tremendously from the multi-author syndrome).

    But PZ is correct. The mention of Haeckel is minimal and in the general intro chapter (which most folks skip). So it is a non-starter.

  17. #17 QrazyQat
    February 10, 2007

    Don’t JUST tell them they’re full of crap — bet them they’re wrong. Especially if it’s in front of others, and make it a reasonable but high enough amount — $100-500 say. Then press them and press them on why they won’t bet (they won’t). If they do, and of course you show they’ve lost, press them over and over on when they’re paying off on their lost bet (they won’t pay — at least that MY bet).

  18. #18 attotheobscure
    February 11, 2007

    PZ, thanks for the comment. “If you’re at all familiar with that rather standard text”. Unfortunately, I’m a patent attorney with a background in physics and electrical engineering and wasn’t afforded enough time in undergrad to take more than one semester of biology. This is why I read your blog. Dishonest creationists love to throw up smokescreens of jargon-laden misinformation and I’ve found Pharyngula (as well as Panda’s Thumb) to provide excellent and timely rebuttals to the DI-lie-of-the-week.

  19. #19 rrt
    February 11, 2007

    FWIW, attotheobscure (Atto?), I think ichthyic’s comment was motivated at least in part by the fact that Charlie B.’s comment described (rather clearly I thought) what Alberts said. Familiarity with the text wasn’t required there.

  20. #20 Charlie B.
    February 11, 2007

    Yep. The text accompanying the diagram and the accompanying text I mentioned was about it. I can type out the whole section if it would help with context.

  21. #21 G. Shelley
    February 11, 2007

    I see someone beat me to it on the 2nd edition of Alberts et al, but I can comment on the 3rd of Wallace – Biology the Science of Life which was our standard introductory text in the early 90s.
    No mention of Haekal, or of ontology recapitulating phylogeny.
    There is a whole chapter on animal development, but the drawings, from the 21 day stage in humans bear little resemblance to Haekal, which at first glance do not look particularly similar, but they are well labelled and the accompanying text states (p1053)

    The general vertebrate plan expresses iteslf through similarities in representative sof thee classes (a) amphibian, (b) bird and (c) mammal. Such similarities include the anterior-posterior orientation of the axis, the presence of a notochord, formation of broad outlines of the nervous system, the rise of somites and the brief appearance of gill slits. Note the early development of the heart as well as the central nervous system.

    It also mentions the fate of the gill arches including

    Although terrestrial vertebrates do not produce gills, once he ancestral development pattern was laid down it was retained and drastically modified

  22. #22 guthrie
    February 11, 2007

    Thanks Charlie and the others, that wraps that up. Someone with poor reading comprehesion will still take the mention of Haeckels embryos as being used to endorse evolution though.

    But this is a godo example of the good power of the internet, to bring together deiverse knowledge from around the world.
    As opposed to the problematic uses, such as enabling people to form their own self referencing bubble of unreality, and weakening local physical communities.

  23. #23 GreenishBlue
    February 11, 2007

    “Long time listener, first time caller.”

    I wonder if part of what is at play here is that the creationist believes that what was written thousands of years ago must be infallible and true, despite millennia of evidence to the contrary. Maybe they honestly can’t wrap their heads around the concept that science may postulated an idea then later reject it as better models are developed. It would be tantamount to something in the new testament saying “All that stuff in Genesis… well it didn’t really happen that way.”

    Come to think of it, the bible is positively rife with those kinds of contradictions, and yet the creationist accepts all of them as “literally” true. Perhaps they assume that the rationalist must do so as well: anything that was ever postulated by science must still be believed. Thus Haeckel’s drawing appearing in a handful of textbooks with critical analysis is seen as an endorsement by the scientific community.

    I’m probably giving them too much credit here. Wells in particular seems to know exactly what he is doing: taking things out of context to make them seem like something they are not.

  24. #24 spencer
    February 11, 2007

    Come to think of it, the bible is positively rife with those kinds of contradictions, and yet the creationist accepts all of them as “literally” true

    That’s often because creationists and other fundies are shockingly unfamiliar with the contents of the book they claim holds the promise of eternal salvation.

    Over the last few years, I’ve begun to think that the fundies are really worshipping the bible itself, and not the god they claim to love and fear. And since they don’t have to read it to revere it, they don’t bother (possibly because it’s really a terrible book to actually try to read).

  25. #25 mark
    February 11, 2007

    Joseph Le Conte’s “Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought” (1888) contains a chapter, “Proofs from Embryology, or Comparison in the Ontogenic Series.” He does not reproduce a Haeckel-like figure comparing half a dozen vertebrate embryos, but does include a few figures comparing certain developmental aspects. A noteworthy quote regarding the similarity of progressive embryo stages is “This resemblance between the three series must not, however, be exaggerated.” He says the similarities are significant, despite some differences.

  26. #26 David Marjanovi?
    February 11, 2007

    If you’re at all familiar with that rather standard text, you’ll also know that the title is accurate, and this really isn’t a book about development, nor is it really an introductory biology text.

    British Understatement from Minnesota! The book is the size of a frying pan and the weight of two. It is positively monstrous. If you try reading just about any chapter of it before having studied molecular biology for a year or two, good luck.

  27. #27 David Marjanovi?
    February 11, 2007

    If you’re at all familiar with that rather standard text, you’ll also know that the title is accurate, and this really isn’t a book about development, nor is it really an introductory biology text.

    British Understatement from Minnesota! The book is the size of a frying pan and the weight of two. It is positively monstrous. If you try reading just about any chapter of it before having studied molecular biology for a year or two, good luck.

  28. #28 rrt
    February 11, 2007

    I wonder if part of what is at play here is that the creationist believes that what was written thousands of years ago must be infallible and true, despite millennia of evidence to the contrary.

    GreenishBlue, I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember the specifics now…but your ruminations remind me very much of something I’d learned in one of my history classes long ago. Apparently there was a period some centuries ago when academics believed that ancient societies, especially the ancient Greeks, pretty much knew everything knowable. Thus, scholarship and research really amounted to digging up old texts to find the truths contained within, and thus (in part) our continuing reverence for the old Greek philosophers and writers.

    An oversimplification, perhaps–my memory is vague now–but I’ve always thought this influenced theological thought, or at least was damn similar.

  29. #29 karen
    February 11, 2007

    I saw Flock of Dodos at USC last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Randy’s use of storytelling, animation and humor should inform good science communication all the time.

    During the panel discussion after the film, Randy specifically mentioned how grateful he is for all the support he’s gotten here from PZ and from other scientists since the DI attacks started.

    He approached the film deliberately from an outsider’s perspective and was worried about how the scientific community would respond to it. He said the encouragement he’s gotten has really been heartwarming. Score one for our side! 🙂

  30. #30 ck1
    February 11, 2007

    I have 4 textbooks from my college days that address this:

    1 – Hegner, RW and KA Stiles “College Zoology”(Macmillan co, 1965)

    page 613 has a figure with drawing of human, shark and bird showing gill slits.

    page 613: “..ontogeny repeats phylogeny. However, this broad generalization was not entirely justified. A more accurate statement of this law is that an animal may repeat in its embryonic development some of the corresponding stages of its ancestors. This modification of the biogenetic law is necessary because….”

    2 – Romer, AS “The Vertebrate Body”(WB Saunders Co, 1968)

    no relevant figures

    page 124: “This “law” was for decades an important factor in the stimulation of embryologic work and in the study of homology. But further consideration has shown that it is only a half truth. ”

    3 – Balinsky, BI “An introduction to embryology” (WB Saunders, 1970)

    NOTE: this book is ORANGE!

    no relevant figures

    page 9: “The repetition [of phylogeny in ontogeny] is obviously not a complete one, and the biogenetic law states that “Ontogeny is a shortened and modified recapitulation of phylogeny.”….Even if the repetition of features of their ancestors in the ontogenetic development of contemporary animals is not complete, still even the fragmentary repetition of certain ancestral characters may be very useful in elucidating the relationships of animals.” This is followed by a discussion of gill slits.

    page 590: the laws of Baer and Haeckel “stress the greater conservatism of the earlier stages of ontogenetic development rather than that of the later stages, as a result of which the earlier stages show features general to large groups of animals while the more specialized features distinguishing lower taxonomic units become apparent during later stages. These features distinguishing closely related animals may be considered as later acquisitions in the course of evolution.”

    4 – Curtis, H “Biology” (Worth Publishers Inc, 1968)

    no relevant figures.

    Page 516: “This intriguing idea gained widespread popularity since much evidence, such as the gill slits of mammals seemed to provide strong support. Modern biologists realize that Haeckel was only partly right. An early embryo does not resemble any previous, ancestral adult form. It does, however, bear some important resemblances to the embryos of its evolutionary predecessors….”

  31. #31 David Marjanovi?
    February 11, 2007

    Huh? What’s remarkable about a book being orange? ~:-|

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    February 11, 2007

    Huh? What’s remarkable about a book being orange? ~:-|

  33. #33 llewelly
    February 11, 2007

    I believe the classic explanation of the ‘orange cover’ jokes is here .

  34. #34 Lago
    February 11, 2007

    Again, Haeckel’s claim was, “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny”, as in mammalian development = fish-amphibian-reptile-mammmal

    Reality is” Ontogeny “repeats” the ontogeny of phylogeny, with variations selected for over time.

    Selected for variations more often occur in later stages giving the appearance of a “stacked” phylogenic history being played out to casual observers (As with Mister Haeckel), but these changes are based on developmental pressures where changes towards the end of development are less likely to disrupt development as to ones earlier in development.

    Key changes can happen, by selection on variations that occur at any point in development. Early variations selected-for due to influences of a large yolk-sac, or a small yolk-sac, are good examples of this…

    (Think of development as the beam coming from a flashlight beamed on a wall. If one puts their fingers close to the bulb of the flashlight, the image on the wall will be changed greatly because of how close you are to the source. If another person stands next to the wall and puts his finger in front of the beam just as you did, but far away from the bulb, the change of the image on the wall will be much less. In other words, earlier changes have a higher probability of a cascading disruption than later changes, so selection events should, by basic odds, occur more often later in development. This can give a “stacked” appearance in development relative to phylogeny)

  35. #35 exile from groggs
    February 11, 2007

    Your trackback didn’t work. I’ve responded to this post here.

  36. #36 Pat Frank
    February 12, 2007

    #11 — As it turns out I wrote a short, never-published article refuting Wells’ claims about fraud in the name of Haeckel. I was able to access 7 of his 10 examples, among which was Alberts’ book. The analysis is given below.

    The reference [5] in the text below is to: Richardson, M. K.; Hanken, J.; Gooneratne, M. L.; Pieau, C.; Raynaud, A.; Selwood, L.; and Wright, G. M. (1997) “There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in vertebrates: implications for current theories of evolution and development” Anat. Embryol. 196, 91-106.

    Here’s the Alberts analysis:

    “B. Alberts, D. Bray, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts and J. D. Watson “Molecular Biology of the Cell” 3rd ed., Garland, New York, 1994

    “Wells writes (“Icons” p. 102) that: “Haeckel’s drawings appear not only in Futuyma’s book … but also in the latest edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell, by National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts and his colleagues. “Early developmental stages of animals whose adult forms appear radically different are often surprisingly similar,” the Alberts textbook claims, and the neo-Darwinian mechanisms explain why “embryos of different stages so often resemble each other in their early stages and, as they develop, seem sometimes to replay the steps of evolution.””

    “Indeed, page 33 of the text of Alberts, et al. shows the original Haeckel drawings. These are credited to “The Bodelian Library, Oxford”. The Figure legend (Fig. 1-36) says that “[t]he early stages are very similar; the latter stages are more divergent. The earliest stages are drawn roughly to scale; the later stages are not.”

    “As in Futuyma’s book noted above, this Figure is itself fairly damning. Full factual credit is given by implication to the drawings. However, the authors do not mention Haeckel, von Baer, or the biogenetic law in their text. About their Figure 1-36 they write: “During evolution many of the developmental devices that evolved in the simplest multicellular organisms have been conserved as basic principles for the construction of their more complex descendants. … In terms of anatomy, furthermore, early developmental stages of animals whose adult forms appear radically different are often surprisingly similar; it takes an expert to distinguish, for example, a young chick embryo from a young human embryo (Figure 1-36).”

    “Making reference to Figure 1-36 for this argument invokes accusations of fraud because Haeckel fabricated his drawings to emphasize similarities. And yet, looking at the pictures of tailbud-stage embryos in [5], resemblances between the embryos of chick [5, Figure 7d] and human [5, Figure 8k] appear obvious. In fact, the embryo of the Australian skink [5, Figure 6d] – a reptile – is also similar. It would take an expert to distinguish them. Several early developmental similarities in early embryos are listed by Richardson [5, p. 103], including “somites, neural tube, optic anlagen, notochord and pharyngeal pouches”. Thus, “many of the developmental devices” have indeed “been conserved”, as Alberts, et al. state. That being true, the charge properly leveled against Alberts, et al. is not one of mis-stating a fact, but of illustrating the fact negligently. Wells would have us dismiss the facts.

    “Alberts, et al., explain further, continuing from the above and proceeding to Wells’ second quote: “Such observations are not difficult to understand. … The early cells of an embryo are the cards at the bottom of a house of cards – a great deal depends on them, and even small changes in their properties are likely to result in disaster. … In contrast, cells produced near the end of development … have more freedom to change. It is presumably for this reason that the embryos of different species so often resemble one another in their early stages, and as they develop, seem to sometimes replay the steps of evolution.”

    “Note the use of “presumably” prior to the quote extracted by Wells. That makes the quoted comment far more tentative than Wells implied by his truncated exposition.

    “Thus, the various statements made by Alberts, et al. and attacked by Wells as being misrepresentation or fraud, are much more qualified and much better founded than Wells would have us believe. As in the case of Futuyma, that Alberts, et al. used Haeckel’s drawings amounts to professional negligence. However, in no case have they made textual claims that are at variance with the facts of biology.

  37. #37 Charlie B.
    February 12, 2007

    This is what I don’t get – how is using drawings in the style of Haeckel’s “professional negligence”?

    Yes, Haeckel himself emphasised the similarities and blurred the differences in his original studies and acted fraudulently to bolster his pet theory. So that means noone can lay the stages out in that manner?

    As part of the background to development and evolution, that diagram is invaluable. Especially when it has been redrawn from source, not simply traced from Haeckel.

  38. #38 exilefromgroggs
    February 12, 2007

    “As part of the background to development and evolution, that diagram is invaluable. Especially when it has been redrawn from source, not simply traced from Haeckel.”

    Not having been redrawn from source, is it invaluable because it is wrong, or in spite of the fact that it is wrong?

    Look, guys and girls. This really is a no-brainer. Don’t defend this stupid practice. Don’t defend ignorance. Don’t try and obfuscate. If something is known to be wrong, then get rid of it! If you want to win the argument for evolution, and get rid of all those creationists and IDiots that you hate and despite so much – which I assume you do, given your bleatings on this blog – then present the best information and arguments you’ve got. Don’t present things that are deceptive and then get all huffy when somebody points that fact out, and say things like, “Well, they’ve not said anything about our best arguments, so we’re still up.”

    Why not just say – “Yep – you’re right. Let’s get rid of that diagram wherever it can be found, and substitute these electron micrographs which show the same thing but more accurately.” Why does it hurt so much to acknowledge that this practice was wrong? Miller and Levine have admitted it. Futuyma admitted he didn’t know. What’s the problem?

  39. #39 Charlie B.
    February 12, 2007

    “Don’t defend ignorance”? *banging head against desk*

    No-one is defending the practice of fudging. But no-one is defending Haeckel’s recapitulation theory either. Just like Lowell’s canals were wishful thinking, and his theory superceded, as is Haeckel’s.

    Yet again, the typical focus of the nay-sayer is on the tiny and ultimately irrelevant detail, in an attempt to distract from the big picture which is that using that particular diagram is actually irrelevant to whether evolution is true, and even the fudges that Haeckel made a hundred-and-thirty years ago don’t actually matter a damn. Haeckel was wrong to fudge his diagram to support his theory, but that does not mean that his diagram is not still of use. It’s an *illustration* of a point, it’s a stepping stone to real knowledge and understanding, just like we learn approximations of physics and chemistry at school on our way to learning the cutting edge.

    People who are really learning science, instead of trying to destroy it for some fantasy, understand that there are approximations on the way to real knowledge. You’d do well to go learn some real science instead of bleating about nothing.

    “This really is a no-brainer.” You said it.

  40. #40 exilefromgroggs
    February 12, 2007

    “But no-one is defending Haeckel’s recapitulation theory either.” Well, I’m not attacking it. Neither is ISCID. All I’ve said is that using Haeckel’s pictures overplay the evidence. And there’s plenty of other evidence that could be used, so I’m told.

    So why do you raise recapitulation? Whose fighting straw men? Me? Or you? Why don’t you respond to what people actually say, rather than what you want them to say? Oh, I forgot – perhaps that would be paraspinning.

    “It’s a stepping stone to real knowledge and understanding.” Riiiiiiight. And Futuyma hadn’t arrived at that enlightened state when he wrote his textbook? Nor Miller and Levine? And it required “creationists” to point this out to them? Give me a break.

    I have no problems with stepping stones, analogies, metaphors or similes. I can do illustrations, case studies and models. The thing about most of those is that they are approximations of reality – they are not “even better than the real thing” – and this is acknowledged by the people who use them. This is not the case here with Haeckel’s drawings.

    As for real science – whatever. I’m an amateur, and I have no problem admitting that. That’s my excuse for not publishing papers. But if you can’t persuade me, when I’m interested in this and prepared to talk about it, just how exactly do you think you are going to persuade the rest of the world? Jackboots and cattleprods?

  41. #41 Charlie B.
    February 12, 2007

    Using *one* of Haeckel’s diagrams overplays *what* evidence, exactly? How does the way that it has been used do anything other than illustrate a simple point – that embryos of a certain stage are outwardly similar? And if you compare the diagram used in, say, Alberts, with photos of said embryos, it’s clear that the similarities are there. So, again, exactly what “evidence for evolution” is “overplayed” by using a single drawing based on a 130yo study in the introduction to a book on molecular biology?

    Nice baiting with the Godwin allusions, btw.

  42. #42 G. Shelley
    February 12, 2007

    But no-one is defending Haeckel’s recapitulation theory either.” Well, I’m not attacking it. Neither is ISCID. All I’ve said is that using Haeckel’s pictures overplay the evidence. And there’s plenty of other evidence that could be used, so I’m told.

    The whole point of this is that most books are not using Haekal’s pictures and those that are use them in a historical context. How is that overplaying the evidence?
    Many books do use photographs, but Wells doesn’t think that they are much better.

  43. #43 exilefromgroggs
    February 12, 2007

    Alberts et al uses a picture derived from Haeckel, and not in an historical context, but to say that embryos of different species look the same. Miller and Levine say that most books used Haeckel’s pictures. Please come up with an explanation that also accounts for these observations.

    Randy Olson’s film argued:
    a) If Wells’ book could be shown to be false in one area, it would undermine the credibility of the whole book (a dubious premise)
    b) No textbooks use Haeckel’s drawings, contra Wells.
    As b) has been shown to be false – both by DI, and by Olson’s own admission, the conclusion (Wells was defrauding his readers) falls.

    Now, being good darwinists, you must have a hundred and one ways of showing that “Icons” was a load of tosh. I’ve read lots of them. Why on earth did Olson do something that even stood a chance of being undermined so quickly after its appearance?!

  44. #44 GH
    February 12, 2007

    If you want to win the argument for evolution, and get rid of all those creationists and IDiots that you hate and despite so much

    This was funny. The argument for evolution has been won some time ago. It’s used in research and feeds all of modern biology. It’s just educating the US masses that needs to be done.

    Creationists will always be around as long as preachers can gain access to enough 3-5 year olds to keep the indoctrination cycle going.

    IDiots are simply a promotional campaign and even the Templeton foundation smelled them out last week for producing zero information.

  45. #45 PZ Myers
    February 12, 2007

    There’s another significant distinction that is escaping you.

    There is a valid observation: vertebrate embryos resemble one another. This fact predates Haeckel and has been verified innumerable times.

    There is an invalid theory: Haeckel’s. It has been abandoned for over a century.

    The observation is not the theory.

    Also, just for laughs, note that the figure everyone uses and that everyone is damning is not the one Haeckel is accused of faking. That’s another sneaky creationist dodge.

  46. #46 Lago
    February 12, 2007

    Let’s make this simple (again)

    Creationists are attampting a “Bait and Switch”. They discuss Heackel’s recap idea, and try and switch it for, “They can all be seen to share the basic vertebrate body plan”.

    These two ideas ARE NOT THE SAME!

    Many people in here, including me, explained where Haeckel went wrong. Granted, we gave Readers-Digest version of where he went wrong, but we did explain his mistake.

    THE FACT that vertebrates share a basic plan, that can be seen laid out during development, is DEEPLY factual, and is NOT one and the same with Haeckel’s idea of “Stacking” adults from a phylogenic history on top of one another during development. These issues are extremely different…

    If the people that are attacking PZ take the time to realize this, I think you will realize YOUR mistake…

    Have a good day!

  47. #47 exilefromgroggs
    February 12, 2007

    “Creationists are attampting [sic] a “Bait and Switch”. They discuss Heackel’s [sic] recap idea, and try and switch it for, “They can all be seen to share the basic vertebrate body plan”. These two ideas ARE NOT THE SAME!”

    No, they may not be. And since I don’t have Bruce Alberts to hand, or later editions of his book, I can’t say what he intended. But the point is ambiguously made, and illustrated with Haeckel’s embryos, WHICH MAKES THEM LOOK THE SAME! Which is the point I am making – and which Lago seems to have finally cottoned onto, in filling in some useful background theory in the comments on my blog, rather than trying to justify the re-use of the picture.

    And don’t exaggerate. There’s only one of me, even if you make the label “creationist” stick.

  48. #48 PZ Myers
    February 12, 2007

    But the embryos do look very similar. Do you think there are some vertebrate embryos at the phylotypic stage that don’t have tailbuds, somites, branchial arches, major organs, etc.?

  49. #49 Lago
    February 12, 2007

    “And don’t exaggerate. There’s only one of me, even if you make the label “creationist” stick.”

    You are not the only creationist being dealt with…

    “But the point is ambiguously made, and illustrated with Haeckel’s embryos, WHICH MAKES THEM LOOK THE SAME!

    They do look the same. The real myth here is that they do not. The similarities between embryos of different vertebrate groups are often striking. For example, the anatomical differences between a human and a shark are rather great as adults, but those differences diminish greatly in certain embryonic stages…

  50. #50 Charlie B.
    February 12, 2007

    It makes them look very similar. Which is not really surprising, because they are. Which is the whole point. It’s not fraudulent to use a drawing that shows what’s there. So, again, what exactly is overplayed by using a drawing of something that shows what is observed?

  51. #51 Stanton
    February 12, 2007

    What does it matter to Creationists, Charlie?
    After all, “facts” to Creationists are simply the Devil’s playing cards.

  52. #52 Charlie B.
    February 12, 2007

    Stanton: You know this, and I know this. It’s just interesting and informative to see how many ways a person can avoid the same point…

    It’s a little odd for me to see the rise in British creationism. I know it was about, when I was a practising Christian I knew quite a few creationists. But as I got to university and knew more scientists, creationism utterly dropped off the radar for me. It’s been in the last few years where I’ve read things like Darwin’s Black Box and been stunned by the vacuity or misunderstandings of these guys that I’ve started taking an interest again.

    So to see stuff I understand reasonably well constantly misrepresented by people who sometimes admit they don’t actually understand it is really quite irritating, and like any other itch, scratching it helps…

  53. #53 Keith Douglas
    February 12, 2007

    I think part of the problem with the failure to understand the modern view versus Haekel’s is that the ID/creationists/concern trolls don’t realize that “recaptulate” is as much a technical term as “phylogeny” and “ontogeny” are in the phrase. It is really the uselessness of this term in contemporary biology that is the issue.

  54. #54 Ichthyic
    February 12, 2007

    Jeebus, talk about people dense to the concept, lago even went over to exilefromgroggs (paul) site and patiently explained it YET AGAIN.

    Paul’s response (after about the 13th repetition):

    “well, why didn’t you say so?”


  55. #55 Charlie B.
    February 13, 2007

    And yet he still claims the diagram as used isn’t representative.

  56. #56 Kevin
    February 18, 2007

    Just thinking about this subject logically, which came first the chicken or the egg?
    Just before the fish decided to venture on to dry land, did it evolve lungs, if so why didn’t it drown?

    Well, I am sure this question has already been answered.

  57. #57 Raguel
    February 21, 2007

    Kevin: I’m no biologist but from what I understand the egg came first, but it came from something that’s virtually indistinguishable from a chicken. Also, iirc there are fish that have lungs and gills.

  58. #58 truth machine
    December 31, 2007

    Just thinking about this subject logically, which came first the chicken or the egg?

    See, there’s this process called evolution … at some point in the past, chickens were somewhat less chicken-like than they are now and chicken eggs were somewhat less chicken egg -like. Go back far enough, and the thing hatching from the egg wouldn’t be recognizable as a chicken, but the egg would still be an egg (but not a chicken egg).

    Just before the fish decided to venture on to dry land, did it evolve lungs, if so why didn’t it drown?

    Whales have lungs and they don’t drown, so why do you think things with lungs must drown in water?

    You don’t have the right picture, because you aren’t taking into account how much time this process took, with very small gradual changes. The creatures that first moved onto land were already breathing air while in shallow water. Have you heard of lungfish? They don’t actually have lungs, they have a modified swim bladder that can absorb oxygen — so fish can come out of the water without evolving lungs first.

  59. #59 truth machine
    December 31, 2007

    All I’ve said is that using Haeckel’s pictures overplay the evidence.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about; what you’ve said is wrong.

  60. #60 truth machine
    December 31, 2007

    But the point is ambiguously made, and illustrated with Haeckel’s embryos, WHICH MAKES THEM LOOK THE SAME!

    Why do you capitalize this, as if it weren’t true that they look the same, when they do? Huh, Paul? Why do you do that? Do you think they don’t look the same? If so, why do you think that?

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