Article ID: CBB001420908

Gateway, Instrument, Environment (2012)


When in 1875 August Weismann saw amblystomas for the first time, he was struck. Even though he was familiar with the anatomical description and illustrations Auguste Duméril (Duméril 1866a) had published ten years earlier, it was not until he saw these strange creatures with his own eyes that he realized how much the axolotls had changed in the course of their transformation. They had become entirely different animals (Weismann 1875: 240).1 This observation confirmed his belief that the transformation could neither be the kind of metamorphosis commonly observed among amphibians nor the progressive evolutionary event that other zoologists had posited. While the transformations published by Duméril in 1866 (Fig. 1) had been a surprising and enigmatic event, Weismann's amblystomas were the result of an experiment. Marie von Chauvin, who worked with Weismann in Freiburg, had induced the transformation by carefully altering the living conditions of five axolotls.

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Authors & Contributors
McMillan, R. Bruce
Cosans, Christopher
Maienschein, Jane A.
Alexander, R. McNeill
Maclaurin, James
Minnelli, Alessandro
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Journal of the History of Biology
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Archives of Natural History
Wallstein Verlag
Vertebrate zoology
Developmental biology
Weismann, August
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Owen, Richard
Dohrn, Anton Felix
Smith, Charles Hamilton
Ballerstedt, Maximilian Magnus
United States
Missouri (U.S.)
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century

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