The Abundance of Heterochrony in the Fossil Record

  • Kenneth J. McNamara
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 7)


Paleontologists have long recognized that the fossil record seems to indicate a strong relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. Any attempt to assess the nature of this relationship, however, is plagued by many problems, not the least of which are the dual specters of Ernst Haeckel and Walter Garstang, which have long haunted paleontologists. In the late 19th century the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny was explained almost entirely in terms of recapitulation. In the same year that Haeckel proposed his biogenetic law, Hyatt (1866), working on fossil cephalopods, formulated a very similar scheme to interpret the evolutionary history of ammonoids. Hyatt’s ideas were to have a profound effect on many of his contemporary paleontologist colleagues and some of his students. For example, Jackson (1890, 1912) interpreted many aspects of bivalve and echinoid evolution in terms of recapitulation, as did Beecher (1893, 1987) on brachiopods and trilobites.


Late Cretaceous Fossil Record Late Ordovician Fossil Vertebrate Cambrian Trilobite 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth J. McNamara
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Australian MuseumPerthAustralia

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