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From Embryology to Evo-Devo

A History of Developmental Evolution (Dibner Institute Studies in the History of Science and Technology)

Manfred D. Laubichler (Editor), Jane Maienschein (Editor), Manfred D. Laubichler (Contribution by)


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Historians, philosophers, sociologists, and biologists explore the history of the idea that embryological development and evolution are linked.

Although we now know that ontogeny (individual development) does not actually recapitulate phylogeny (evolutionary transformation), contrary to Ernst Haeckel's famous dictum, the relationship between embryological development and evolution remains the subject of intense scientific interest. In the 1990s a new field, evolutionary developmental biology (or evo-devo), was hailed as the synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In From Embryology to Evo-Devo, historians, philosophers, sociologists, and biologists offer diverse perspectives on the history of efforts to understand the links between development and evolution. After examining events in the history of early twentieth century embryology and developmental genetics--including the fate of Haeckel's law and its various reformulations, the ideas of William Bateson, and Richard Goldschmidt's idiosyncratic synthesis of ontogeny and phylogeny--the contributors explore additional topics ranging from the history of comparative embryology in America to a philosophical-historical analysis of different research styles. Finally, three major figures in theoretical biology--Brian Hall, Gerd M ller, and G nter Wagner--reflect on the past and future of evo-devo, particularly on the interdisciplinary nature of the field. The sum is an exciting interdisciplinary exploration of developmental evolution.

MIT Press, 9780262513340, 569pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2009

About the Author

Stuart A. Newman is Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at New York Medical College.