About this book
Teratology is at once among the oldest and youngest of human preoccupations. Coincident with man's first observations of the stars were his recordings of human and animal deformities. But, such aberrancies must have occurred even earlier, for although it is one of those things-like evolution-that cannot be proven, it is nevertheless indisputable that dysmorphogenesis must have occurred from the time complex forms of life first arose on our planet; and that from the beginnings of human awareness our species was conscious of such happenings. From the earliest recordings of this fascination with the form and meaning of abnormality a tortuous but continuous line extends to modern struggles to understand and control these manifestations. And now, after long occupying an honorable but peripheral place in the halls of philosophical and scientific pursuits, teratology has quite suddenly come to take a prominent position at the hub of a complex crossroads of human concerns. This shift in its fortune has taken several forms. Fetal maldevelopment has become the concern of environmentalists, activists of various persuasions, indus trial organizations, government agencies, ethicists, parents-i. e. , individuals and groups whose actions are impelled by apprehension. Such motives are of course not without basis; the trauma of thalidomide left a scar yet raw. For still others clinicians, academics, experimentalists-the upsurge in the interest in fetal mal development is at a different level, and their pursuits are broad, taking external agents as but one of the causes of defective development.
anatomy chromosome cytogenetics embryology environment epidemiology genes genetics morphogenesis natural selection pathology philosophy population protein sex