Thesis ID: CBB001567645

Lessons from Embryos: Haeckel's Embryo Drawings, Evolution, and Secondary Biology Textbooks (2014)

unapi

Wellner, Karen L. (Author)


Maienschein, Jane
Ellison, Karin D.
Robert, Jason S.
Arizona State University
Ellison, Karin D.
Creath, Richard
Robert, Jason S.
Laubichler, Manfred Dietrich
Creath, Richard


Publication Date: 2014
Edition Details: Advisor: Maienschein, Jane; Committee Members: Ellison, Karin D., Creath, Richard, Robert, Jason S., Laubichler, Manfred D.
Physical Details: 237 pp.
Language: English

In 1997, developmental biologist Michael Richardson compared his research team's embryo photographs to Ernst Haeckel's 1874 embryo drawings and called Haeckel's work "noncredible". Science soon published "Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered," and Richardson's comments further reinvigorated criticism of Haeckel by others with articles in The American Biology Teacher, "Haeckel's Embryos and Evolution: Setting the Record Straight " and the New York Times, "Biology Text Illustrations more Fiction than Fact." Meanwhile, others emphatically stated that the goal of comparative embryology was not to resurrect Haeckel's work. At the center of the controversy was Haeckel's no-longer-accepted idea of recapitulation. Haeckel believed that the development of an embryo revealed the adult stages of the organism's ancestors. Haeckel represented this idea with drawings of vertebrate embryos at similar developmental stages. This is Haeckel's embryo grid, the most common of all illustrations in biology textbooks. Yet, Haeckel's embryo grids are much more complex than any textbook explanation. I examined 240 high school biology textbooks, from 1907 to 2010, for embryo grids. I coded and categorized the grids according to accompanying discussion of (a) embryonic similarities (b) recapitulation, (c) common ancestors, and (d) evolution. The textbooks show changing narratives. Embryo grids gained prominence in the 1940s, and the trend continued until criticisms of Haeckel reemerged in the late 1990s, resulting in (a) grids with fewer organisms and developmental stages or (b) no grid at all. Discussion about embryos and evolution dropped significantly.

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Description Cited in Dissertation Abstracts International-B 75/08(E), Feb 2015. Proquest Document ID: 1535787144.


Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB001567645/

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Authors & Contributors
Hopwood, Nick
Salter, Daniel
Gliboff, Sander Joel
Lynn, Laura
Dawidowicz, Paula
Grell, Karl G.
Journals
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Journal of the History of Biology
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Science and Education
Publishers
MIT Press
University of Chicago Press
Johns Hopkins University
Walden University
Routledge
Concepts
Evolution
Embryology
Darwinism
Controversies and disputes
Biology
Scientific illustration
People
Haeckel, Ernst
Darwin, Charles Robert
Bronn, Heinrich Georg
Zacharias, Otto
Edinger, Ludwig
Kammerer, Paul
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
18th century
Places
Germany
United States
Great Britain
London (England)
Institutions
Ernst-Haeckel-Haus, Jena
Victoria Institute
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