To see accurate pricing, please choose your delivery country.
United States
All Shops
EU Shipping Update - read more

British Wildlife

8 issues per year 84 pages per issue Subscription only

British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published eight times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

Subscriptions from £33 per year

Conservation Land Management

4 issues per year 44 pages per issue Subscription only

Conservation Land Management (CLM) is a quarterly magazine that is widely regarded as essential reading for all who are involved in land management for nature conservation, across the British Isles. CLM includes long-form articles, events listings, publication reviews, new product information and updates, reports of conferences and letters.

Subscriptions from £22 per year
Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Evolution

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

By: Stephen Jay Gould(Author)
510 pages, Illus, figs
Ontogeny and Phylogeny
Click to have a closer look
  • Ontogeny and Phylogeny ISBN: 9780674639416 Paperback Feb 1985 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £41.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" was Haeckel's answer – the wrong one – to the most vexing question of nineteenth-century biology: what is the relationship between individual development (ontogeny) and the evolution of species and lineages (phylogeny)? In this, the first major book on the subject in fifty years, Stephen Jay Gould documents the history of the idea of recapitulation from its first appearance among the pre-Socratics to its fall in the early twentieth century.

Mr. Gould explores recapitulation as an idea that intrigued politicians and theologians as well as scientists. He shows that Haeckel's hypothesis – that human fetuses with gill slits are, literally, tiny fish, exact replicas of their water-breathing ancestors – had an influence that extended beyond biology into education, criminology, psychoanalysis (Freud and Jung were devout recapitulationists), and racism. The theory of recapitulation, Gould argues, finally collapsed not from the weight of contrary data, but because the rise of Mendelian genetics rendered it untenable.

Turning to modern concepts, Gould demonstrates that, even though the whole subject of parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny fell into disrepute, it is still one of the great themes of evolutionary biology. Heterochrony – changes in developmental timing, producing parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny – is shown to be crucial to an understanding of gene regulation, the key to any rapprochement between molecular and evolutionary biology. Gould argues that the primary evolutionary value of heterochrony may lie in immediate ecological advantages for slow or rapid maturation, rather than in long-term changes of form, as all previous theories proclaimed.

Neoteny – the opposite of recapitulation – is shown to be the most important determinant of human evolution. We have evolved by retaining the juvenile characters of our ancestors and have achieved both behavioral flexibility and our characteristic morphology thereby (large brains by prolonged retention of rapid fetal growth rates, for example).

Gould concludes that "there may be nothing new under the sun, but permutation of the old within complex systems can do wonders. As biologists, we deal directly with the kind of material complexity that confers an unbounded potential upon simple, continuous changes in underlying processes. This is the chief joy of our science".


        1. Prospectus

    Part I: Recapitulation
        2. The Analogistic Tradition from Anaximander to Bonnet
            The Seeds of Recapitulation in Greek Science?
            Ontogeny and Phylogeny in the Conflict of “Evolution” and Epigenesis: The Idyll of Charles Bonnet
            Appendix: The Revolution in “Evolution”
        3. Transcendental Origins, 1793–1860
            Naturphilosophie: An Expression of Developmentalism
            Two Leading Recapitulationists among the Naturphilosophen: Oken and Meckel
            Oken’s Classification of Animals Linear Additions of Organs
            J. F. Meckel’s Sober Statement of the Same Principles
            Serres and the French Transcendentalists
            Recapitulation and the Theory of Developmental Arrests
            Von Baer’s Critique of Recapitulation
            The Direction of Development and Classification of Animals
            Von Baer and Naturphilosophie: What Is the Universal Direction of Development?
            Louis Agassiz and the Threefold Parallelism
        4. Evolutionary Triumph, 1859–1900
            Evolutionary Theory and Zoological Practice
            Darwin and the Evolution of Von Baer’ Laws
            Evolution and the Mechanics of Recapitulation
            Ernst Haeckel: Phylogeny as the Mechanical Cause of Ontogeny
            The Mechanism of Recapitulation
            The American Neo-Lamarckians: The Law of Acceleration as Evolution’s Motor
            Progressive Evolution by Acceleration
            The Extent of Parallelism
            Why Does Recapitulation Dominate the History of Life?
            Alpheus Hyatt and Universal Acceleration
            Lamarckism and the Memory Analogy
            Recapitulation and Darwinism
            Appendix: The Evolutionary Translation of von Baer’s Laws
        5. Pervasive Influence
            Criminal Anthropology
            Child Development
            Primary Education
            Freudian Psychoanalysis
        6. Decline, Fall, and Generalization
            A Clever Argument
            An Empirical Critique
            Organs or Ancestors: The Transformation of Haeckel’s Heterochrony
            Interpolations into Juvenile Stages
            Introduction of Juvenile Features into the Adults of Descendants
            What Had Become of von Baer’s Critique?
            Benign Neglect: Recapitulation and the Rise of Experimental Embryology
            The Prior Assumptions of Recapitulation
            Wilhelm His and His Physiological Embryology: A Preliminary Skirmish
            Roux’s Entwicklungsmechanik and the Biogenetic Low
            Recapitulation and Substantive Issues in Experimental Embryology: The New Preformationism
            Mendel’s Resurrection, Haeckel’s Fall, and the Generalization of Recapitulation

    Part II: Heterocrony and Paedomorphosis
        7. Heterochrony and the Parallel of Ontogeny and Phylogeny
            Acceleration and Retardation
            Confusion in and after Haeckel’s Wake
            Guidelines for a Resolution
            The Reduction of de Beer’s Categories of Heterochrony to Acceleration and Retardation
            A Historical Paradox: The Supposed Dominance of Recapitulation
            Dissociability and Heterochrony
            Correlation and Disociability
            Dissociation of the Three Processes
            A Metric for Dissociation
            Temporal Shift as a Mechanism of Dissociation
            A Clock Model of Heterochrony
            Appendix: A Note on the Multivariate Representation of Dissociation
        8. The Ecological and Evolutionary Significance of Heterochrony
            The Argument from Frequency
            The Importance of Recapitulation
            The Importance of Heterochronic Change: Selected Cases
            Frequency of Paedomorphosis in the Origin of Higher Taxa
            A Critique of the Classical Significance of Heterochrony
            The Classical Arguments
            Retrospective and Immediate Significance
            Heterochrony, Ecology, and Life-History Strategies
            The Potential Ease and Rapidity of Heterochronic Change
            The Control of Metamorphosis in Insects
            Amphibian Paedomorphosis and the Thyroid Gland
        9. Progenesis and Neoteny Insect Progenesis
            Prothetely and Metathetely
            Paedogenesis (Parthenogenetic Progenesis) in Gall Midges and Beetles
            Progenesis in Wingless, Parthenogenetic Aphids
            Additional Cases of Progenesis with a Similar Ecological Basis
            Neotenic Solitary Locusts: Are They an Exception to the Rule?
            Amphibian Neoteny
            The Ecological Determinants of Progenesis
            Unstable Environments
            Male Dispersal
            Progenesis as an Adaptive Response to Pressures for Small Size
            The Role of Heterochrony in Macroevolution: Contrasting Flexibilities for Progenesis and Neoteny
            The Social Correlates of Neoteny in Higher Vertebrates
        10. Retardation and Neoteny in Human Evolution
            The Seeds of Neoteny
            The Fetalization Theory of Louis Bolk
            Bolk’s Data
            Bolk’s Interpretation
            Bolk’s Evolutionary Theory
            A Tradition of Argument
            Retardation in Human Evolution
            Morphology in the Matrix of Retardation
            Of Enumeration
            Of Prototypes
            Of Correlation
            The Adaptive Significance of Retarded Development
        11. Epilogue


Customer Reviews


Stephen Jay Gould was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, he received innumerable honors and awards and wrote many books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (both from Harvard).

By: Stephen Jay Gould(Author)
510 pages, Illus, figs
Media reviews

"In Gould's [...] new book [...] Ontogeny and Phylogeny, a scholarly study of the theory of recapitulation, he not only explains scientific theory but comments on science itself, with clarity and wit, simultaneously entertaining and teaching [...] [This] is a rich book."
– James Gorman, The New York Times Book Review

"Steven Jay Gould has given us a superb analysis of the use of ontogenetic analogy, the controversies over ontogeny and phylogeny, and the classification of the different processes observable in comparing different ontogenies. His massive book (in each chapter of which there is as much material as in whole books by other writers) is both a historical exposition of the whole subject of ontogeny and phylogeny, and [...] a fascinating attempt at a functional interpretation of those phylogenetic alterations that involve changes of timing developmental processes in related organisms."
– A.J. Cain, Nature

"This [is a] fat, handsome book crammed with provocative ideas [...] Ontogeny and Phylogeny is an important and thoughtful book which will be a valuable source of ideas and controversies for anyone interested in evolutionary or developmental biology."
– Matt Cartmill, Science

"It is rare indeed to read a new book and recognize it for a classic [...] Gould has given biologists a new way to see the organisms they study. The result is a major achievement."
– S. Rachootin, American Scientist

"Gould's book – pervaded, I should say, with an erudition and felicity of style that make it a delight to read – is a radical work in every sense [...] It returns one's attention to the roots of our science – the questions about the great pageant of evolution, the marvelous diversity of form that our theory is meant to explain."
– D. Futuyma, Quarterly Review of Biology

"A distinguished and pioneering work."
– Ernst Mayr

Current promotions
Trail Cameras Free ShippingBest of WinterNHBS Moth TrapBat Surveys for Professional Ecologists