Evolution and Embryology

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NewSouth, Incorporated, Feb 1, 2013 - 50 pages
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In this volume, excerpted from Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy (NewSouth Books, 2013), Kenneth Halanych describes Darwin's debt to the studies of 19th century German embryologists, particularly Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876). He credits Von Baer's observations on animal embryos for providing Darwin with his strongest evidence for the idea of common descent. Publication of On the Origin of Species greatly influenced another German embryologist, Earnst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (1834-1919). Halanych relates how through correspondence the two scientists influenced each others' thinking about human origins and how Haeckel fanned the firestorm of controversy surrounding the theological implications of Darwin's work. The chapter concludes with the latter-20th-century revival of the importance of evolutionary theory to recent and current molecular biological studies of animal development, including emergence of the new discipline of evo-devo.

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About the author (2013)

Kenneth M. Halanych is an Alumni Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University. He also serves as the Marine Biology Liaison for the University. He earned a BS in Biology from Wake Forest University and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Texas. He teaches invertebrate biology and marine biology for students in the life sciences. His research interests included the evolution of major animal lineages, evolution of Antarctic marine invertebrates, and deep-sea biology.

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