Posted by GPP on October 27, 2003
In Reply to: Re: "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" posted by R. Berg on October 27, 2003
: : : Is "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" the precise phrase? If so, what exactly does it mean? Who conined the phrase? And is it still taught as a correct principle in biology?
: : : Ahem
: : Meaning something like 'birds of a feather flock together' is it?
: No, not that. It means that an individual goes through a succession of stages in its development that resembles the stages of development that its species went through when evolving. For example, human fetuses at one (early) stage of development have gills.
: I don't know who coined the phrase or whether the principle is still thought to be correct.
R.Berg's explanation is correct. The concept, however, is wrong, although it still appears in many textbooks even today. The German biologist Ernst Haeckel coined the phrase (as well as the word 'phylogeny') near the end of the 19th C. For more information, see http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/haeckel.html as a starting place. You'll find more by googling on the phrase, or on Haeckel's name; but be aware that 75% of what you'll find online is total BS; look for sites sponsored by univerities.