Ontogeny Recapitulates What?

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    "Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny" a quote ascribed to Ernest Haeckel basically means that Ontogeny, the development of the individual from the fertilized egg to maturity, recapitulates the phylogeny or evolutionary history of the species.

     The strict interpretation of this statement that embryos go back through every stage of their evolutionary past is rejected today, but there is no doubt that the embryos of closely related groups DO show great similarities in their development and is another piece of evidence to support the idea that we all share a common ancestry.

     The fact that modern biology has rejected the strict interpretation of this statement has been ignored by Creationists who continue to ridicule the entire idea of evolution, gleefully going on and on about the evolutionists who continue, they say, to promulgate an outmoded idea.  A typical example:

"Repeatedly, over the past 150 years, evolutionists have sought to use fraud, ignorance, sensationalism, ridicule, and hoaxes to convince the public that evolutionary theory is true. Lacking any scientific evidence for their conjectures, they recognize this is the only avenue open to them. *Ernest Haekel's fraudulent charts are just part of a line of frauds. The truth is that evolutionary theory is a myth. God created everything; the evidence clearly points to it. Nothing else can explain the mountain of evidence. This is science vs. evolution—a Creation-Evolution Encyclopedia, brought to you by Creation Science Facts."

    Apparently Haeckel DID doctor his charts comparing the embryos of various vertebrates, and various publishers continued to print these erroneous charts.  However, if you examine modern textbooks and references they don't use Haeckel's drawings but they do use more accurate illustrations.  Do these illustrations show that there are no striking similarities between the groups?  Of course not, the similarities are striking and show that the best interpretation of such similarities of embryos is that they share a common ancestor.  However, the below sites ignore current interpretation of this idea and continue to harp on Haeckel's doctoring of his illustrations.


Here is one site that claims that because the drawings were doctored, the entire idea of evolution is fallacious.

"In Haeckel's fabricated drawings, the embryos of various living things were placed side by side in the attempt to give the impression that there was a similarity among them. In order to show the similarity between the embryo of a human being and that of a fish, Haeckel made a few additions to some parts and removed other parts. As in all other evolutionist falsifications, the goal here was to provide false evidence for evolution. But actual photographs of these embryos clearly revealed Haeckel's falsifications. These fabrications are just one proof that the theory of evolution is a deceit founded on falsehood."

Campbell, 1996

"The theory of recapitulation is an overstatement. What recapitulation does occur is a replay of embryonic stages, not a sequence of adult like stages of ever more advanced vertebrates. ...Nevertheless, ontogeny does provide clues to phylogeny... Comparative embryology can often establish homology among structures, such as gill pouches, that become so altered in later development that their common origin would not be apparent by comparing their fully developed forms."

This is taken from a site which lists and answers Creationist arguments against Evolution:


A law first discovered by Ernst Haeckel which if pronounced correctly and with conviction, impresses laymen and students of science in the elementary grades. Simply stated, and thus less convincingly, it means that the embryos of all animals bother to provide a historical review of many stages of their evolution during their embryological development. Although this type of reminiscing is touching and is taught in almost every general science and biology text book, it is no longer accepted by scientists or even evolutionists.

It was shown to be wrong about 5 years after Haeckel proposed it.  His idea was that the embryos go through the adult stage of earlier forms. Too bad that embryos actually do resemble each other early on - humans have pharyngeal arches and tails, for example.

NOTE CHECK THIS: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-38241.html


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