In 1859 Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. No single book before or since has had such a profound effect on evolutionary theory. To most present-day biologists it is seen as the bright light that burst upon the Dark Ages of biology that preceded it. While no biologist in his right mind could do otherwise than regard this work as being of pivotal importance in modern evolutionary thought, from the perspective of those who have been exploring the role of changes in developmental regulation in evolution, this work could also be seen in another, less flattering, light. Even though Darwin drew heavily on the detailed embryological studies made in the early 19th century, this intrinsic aspect of evolution has been largely neglected in the neo-Darwinian view of more recent times. Rather, focus has been on the extrinsic factor of natural selection. Thus, Darwin’s work has, albeit indirectly, been instrumental in closing the door on a facet of biological theory that had dominated scientific thought in the late 18th and early 19th centuries—the developmental relationships among organisms.
KeywordsFossil Record Early 19th Century Ontogenetic Stage Historical Overview Intrinsic Aspect
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