History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 357–370 | Cite as

Alexei Sewertzoff and Adolf Naef: revising Haeckel’s biogenetic law

Original Paper

Abstract

Ernst Haeckel formulated his biogenetic law, famously stating that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, in 1872. The Russian evolutionist Alexei Sewertzoff, and the Swiss-born zoologist Adolf Naef were among those who revised Haeckel’s law, thus changing the course of evolutionary theory and of developmental biology. Although Sewertzoff and Naef approached the problem in a similar way and formulated similar hypotheses at a purely descriptive level, their theoretical viewpoints were crucially different. While Sewertzoff laid the foundations for a Darwinian evolutionary morphology and is regarded as a forerunner of the modern synthesis, Naef was one of the most important figures in “idealistic morphology”, which is usually seen as a type of anti-Darwinism. Both Naef and Sewertzoff aimed to revise Haeckel’s biogenetic law and came to comparable conclusions at the empirical level. This paper is an attempt to explain how their fundamentally different theoretical backgrounds influenced their views on the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny.

Keywords

Biogenetic law Ernst Haeckel Alexei Sewertzoff Adolf Naef Idealistic morphology Evolutionary morphology 

References

  1. Bowler, P. J. (1992). The non-darwinian revolution. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bowler, P. (1996). Life’s splendid drama. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex, 2 vols. London: John Murray.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. de Beer, G. R. (1932). Book Review: A.N. Sewertzoff ‘Morphologische Gesetzmässigkeiten der Evolution’. Nature, 3257(129), 490–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Franz, V. (1927). Ontogenie und Phylogenie. Das sogenannte biogenetische Grundgesetz und die biometabolischen Modi. Berlin: Springer (Abhandlungen zur Theorie der organischen Entwicklung, III).Google Scholar
  7. Gilbert, S. F. (2003). Evo-devo, devo-evo, and devgen-popgen. Biology and Philosophy, 18, 347–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gould, S. J. (1977). Ontogeny and phylogeny. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Haeckel, E., (1866). Generelle Morphologie der Organismen, 2 Bde. Berlin: Georg Reimer.Google Scholar
  10. Haeckel, E., (1872). Die Kalkschwämme. Eine Monographie, 3 Bde. Berlin: Georg Reimer.Google Scholar
  11. Haeckel, E. (1874). Anthropogenie oder Entwickelungsgeschichte des Menschen. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.Google Scholar
  12. Hall, B. K. (2000). Evo-devo or devo-evo: Does it matter? Evolution and Development, 2, 177–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hossfeld, U. (2001). ‘Aufstieg und Fall’ der Evolutions Morphologie im deutschen Sprachraum: Aspekte des Recyclings eines interdisziplinären Konzepts. Gesnerus Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine and Sciences, 58(1/2), 53–75.Google Scholar
  14. Hossfeld, U., & Olsson, L. (2003). The road from Haeckel. Biology and Philosophy, 18, 285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Levit, G. S., Hossfeld, U., & Olsson, L. (2004). The integration of Darwinism and evolutionary morphology: Alexei Nikolajevich Sewertzoff (1866–1936) and the developmental basis of evolutionary change. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 302B(4), 343–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Levit, G. S., Hossfeld, U., & Olsson, L. (2006). “From the ‘Modern Synthesis’ to cybernetics: Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen (1884–1963) and his research program for a synthesis of evolutionary and developmental biology. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 306B, 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levit, G. S., & Meister, K. (2005). Methodological ideologies in the German-language morphology. Yearbook for European Culture of Science, 2, 35–62.Google Scholar
  18. Levit, G. S., & Meister, K. (2006). The history of essentialism vs. Ernst Mayr’s ‘Essentialism story’: A case study of German idealistic morphology. Theory in Biosciences, 124(3–4), 281–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mayr, E. (2001). What evolution is. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  20. Meister, K. (2005a). Metaphysische konsequenz: Die idealistische Morphologie Edgar Dacqués. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologische und Paläontologische Abhandlungen, 235, 197–233.Google Scholar
  21. Meister, K. (2005b). Wilhelm Troll (1897–1978): Tradierung idealistischer Morphologie in den deutschen botanischen Wissenschaften des 20. Jahrhunderts. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 27(2), 221–247.Google Scholar
  22. Mirzoyan, E.N., (1981). “Severtsov Alexey Nikolaevich”. In: C. C. Gillespie (Ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography vol. 11 (pp. 336–339). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  23. Müller, F. (1864). Für Darwin. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.Google Scholar
  24. Naef, A. (1911). Studien zur generellen Morphologie der Mollusken. Ergebnisse und Fortschritte der Zoologie, 3, 73–164.Google Scholar
  25. Naef, A. (1913). Studien zur generellen Morphologie der Mollusken. 2. Das coelomsystem in seinen topographischen Beziehungen. Ergebnisse und Fortschritte der Zoologie, 3, 329–462.Google Scholar
  26. Naef, A. (1917). Die individuelle Entwicklung organischer Formen als Urkunde ihrer Stammesgeschichte. Jena: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar
  27. Naef, A. (1919). Idealistische Morphologie und Phylogenetik. Jena: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar
  28. Naef, A. (1923). Über systematische Morphologie und ihre Bedeutung für die Wissenschaft und Lehre vom Leben. Vierteljahresschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft Zürich, 68, 387–397.Google Scholar
  29. Naef, A., (1928). 2000, Cephalopoda. Embryology, English translation by S. V. Boletzky. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Libraries.Google Scholar
  30. Naef, A. (1931). Phylogenie der Tiere. In E. Baur & M. Hartmann (Eds.), Handbuch der vererbungswissenschaft (Vol. 3). Berlin: Bornträger.Google Scholar
  31. Olsson, L. (2005). Alternatives to Darwinism in Sweden: Lamarckism and idealistic morphology, disbelief in mutations and the poverty of selection. Jahrbuch für Europäische Wissenschaftskultur, 1, 47–60.Google Scholar
  32. Reif, W.-E. (1998). Adolf Naefs idealistische Morphologie und das Paradigma der Evolutionstheorien. Verhandlungen zur Geschichte und Theorie der Biologie, 1, 411–424.Google Scholar
  33. Rieppel, O. (2011a). Wilhelm Troll (1897–1978): idealistic morphology, physics, and phylogenetics. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 33, 321–342.Google Scholar
  34. Rieppel, O. (2011b). Adolf Naef (1883–1949), systematic morphology and phylogenetics. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolution Research, 50, 2–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rieppel, O., Williams, D. M., & Ebach, M. C. (2013). Adolf Naef (1883–1949): on foundational concepts and principles of systematic morphology. Journal of the History of Biology, 46(3), 445–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schmalhausen, I. I. (1969). Problemy darwinizma. Leningrad: Nauka. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  37. Severtzov, A. S. (1970). On the evolution of ontogenesis. Journal of General Biology, 31(2), 222–235.Google Scholar
  38. Severtzov, A. S. (2012). A.N. Sewertzoff and the regularities of macroevolution. In E. I. Kolchinsky (Ed.), The Architects of Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (pp. 80–110). St. Petersburg, Russian Academy of Sciences: Nestor-Istorija. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  39. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1910). Evolutzija i embryologija. Moscow: Moscow University. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  40. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1912). Etudy po teorii evoliutzii. Kiev: University of Saint Vladimir. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  41. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1927). Über die Beziehung zwischen der Ontogenese und Phylogenese der Tiere. Jenaische Zeitschrift für Naturwissenschaften, 63, 51–180.Google Scholar
  42. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1931). Morphologische Gesetzmäßigkeiten der Evolution. Jena: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar
  43. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1934). Morfologitcheskije zakonomernosti evoliutzonnogo prozessa. Sozialisticheskaja Rekonstruktzija i Nauka, 83, 21–37. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  44. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1939). Morfologitcheskije zakonomernosti evoliutzii. Moscow-Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  45. Sewertzoff, A. N. (1949). Sobranije sotchinenij (Vol. 5). Moscow: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk. [in Russian].Google Scholar
  46. Ulrich, W. (1968). Ernst Haeckel: ‘Generelle Morphologie’, 1866 (Fortsetzung und Schluß). Zoologische Beiträge NF, 14, 213–311.Google Scholar
  47. Uschmann, G. (1966). 100 Jahre ‘Generelle Morphologie’. Biologische Rundschau, 5, 241–252.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgy S. Levit
    • 1
    • 2
  • Uwe Hossfeld
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lennart Olsson
    • 3
  1. 1.Arbeitsgruppe Biologiedidaktik, Biologisch-Pharmazeutische FakultätFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.ITMO UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia
  3. 3.Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie mit Phyletischem MuseumFriedrich-Schiller-Universität JenaJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations