to be called the "recapitulation theory" has long been eliminated
from scientific literature, but it is still being presented
as a scientific reality by some evolutionist publications.
The term "recapitulation" is a condensation of the dictum
"ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," put forward by the evolutionary
biologist Ernst Haeckel at the end of the nineteenth century.
This theory of Haeckel's postulates that living
embryos re-experience the evolutionary process that their
pseudo-ancestors underwent. He theorized that during its development
in its mother's womb, the human embryo first displayed the
characteristics of a fish, and then those of a reptile, and
finally those of a human.
It has since been proven that this theory is
completely bogus. It is now known that the "gills" that supposedly
appear in the early stages of the human embryo are in fact
the initial phases of the middle-ear canal, parathyroid, and
thymus. That part of the embryo that was likened to the "egg
yolk pouch" turns out to be a pouch that produces blood for
the infant. The part that was identified as a "tail" by Haeckel
and his followers is in fact the backbone, which resembles
a tail only because it takes shape before the legs do.
These are universally acknowledged facts in the
scientific world, and are accepted even by evolutionists themselves.
Two leading neo-Darwinists, George Gaylord Simpson and W.
Beck have admitted:
Haeckel misstated the
evolutionary principle involved. It is now firmly established
that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny.319
With his faked embryo drawings, Ernst Haeckel deceived
the world of science for a century.
The following was written in an article in New
Scientist dated October 16, 1999:
[Haeckel] called this
the biogenetic law, and the idea became popularly known
as recapitulation. In fact Haeckel's strict law was soon
shown to be incorrect. For instance, the early human
embryo never has functioning gills like a fish, and never
passes through stages that look like an adult reptile or
In an article published in American Scientist,
Surely the biogenetic
law is as dead as a doornail. It was finally exorcised from
biology textbooks in the fifties. As a topic of serious
theoretical inquiry it was extinct in the twenties…321
Another interesting aspect of "recapitulation"
was Ernst Haeckel himself, a faker who falsified his drawings
in order to support the theory he advanced. Haeckel's forgeries
purported to show that fish and human embryos resembled one
another. When he was caught out, the only defense he offered
was that other evolutionists had committed similar offences:
After this compromising
confession of 'forgery' I should be obliged to consider
myself condemned and annihilated if I had not the consolation
of seeing side by side with me in the prisoner's dock hundreds
of fellow - culprits, among them many of the most trusted
observers and most esteemed biologists. The great majority
of all the diagrams in the best biological textbooks, treatises
and journals would incur in the same degree the charge of
'forgery,' for all of them are inexact, and are more or
less doctored, schematised and constructed.322
Haeckel's fake drawings.
In the September 5, 1997, edition of the well-known
scientific journal Science, an article was published
revealing that Haeckel's embryo drawings were the product
of a deception. The article, called "Haeckel's Embryos:
Fraud Rediscovered," had this to say:
The impression they
[Haeckel's drawings] give, that the embryos are exactly
alike, is wrong, says Michael Richardson, an embryologist
at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London… So he
and his colleagues did their own comparative study, reexamining
and photographing embryos roughly matched by species and
age with those Haeckel drew. Lo and behold, the embryos
"often looked surprisingly different," Richardson reports
in the August issue of Anatomy and Embryology.323
In its September 5, 1997, issue, the famous journal
Science published an article revealing that
Haeckel's embryo drawings had been falsified. The
article described how the embryos were in fact very
different from one another.
Observations in recent years have revealed that
embryos of different species do not resemble each
other, as Haeckel had attempted to show. The great
differences between the mammal, reptile and bat
embryos above are a clear instance of this.
Science explained that, in order to
be able to show the embryos as similar, Haeckel deliberately
removed some organs from his drawings or else added imaginary
ones. Later in this same article, the following information
Not only did Haeckel
add or omit features, Richardson and his colleagues report,
but he also fudged the scale to exaggerate similarities
among species, even when there were 10-fold differences
in size. Haeckel further blurred differences by neglecting
to name the species in most cases, as if one representative
was accurate for an entire group of animals. In reality,
Richardson and his colleagues note, even closely
related embryos such as those of fish vary quite a bit in
their appearance and developmental pathway. "It
(Haeckel's drawings) looks like it's turning out to be one
of the most famous fakes in biology," Richardson concludes.324
The Science article goes on to discuss
how Haeckel's confessions on this subject were covered up
from the beginning of the last century, and how the fake drawings
began to be presented in textbooks as scientific fact:
got lost after his drawings were subsequently used
in a 1901 book called Darwin and After Darwin and reproduced
widely in English language biology texts.325
In short, the fact that Haeckel's drawings
were falsified had already emerged in 1901, but the whole
world of science continued to be deceived by them for a century.
319 G. G. Simpson, W. Beck,
An Introduction to Biology, Harcourt Brace and World,
New York, 1965, p. 241.
320 Ken McNamara, "Embryos and Evolution,"
New Scientist, vol. 12416, 16 October 1999. (emphasis
321 Keith S. Thomson, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny
Recapitulated," American Scientist, vol. 76, May/June
1988, p. 273.
322 Francis Hitching, The Neck of the
Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong, Ticknor and Fields,
New York, 1982, p. 204.
323 Elizabeth Pennisi, "Haeckel's Embryos:
Fraud Rediscovered," Science, 5 September, 1997.
324 Elizabeth Pennisi, "Haeckel's Embryos:
Fraud Rediscovered," Science, 5 September, 1997.
325 Elizabeth Pennisi,
"Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered," Science,
5 September, 1997. (emphasis added)