13  Recapitulation theory

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Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) asserted that the human being, while growing in the womb, repeats evolutionary development from fish to human. This thesis was already discredited in Haeckel’s own lifetime. New photographs prove the complete soundlessness of this theory. In spite of this, Haeckel’s depiction still appears in many schoolbooks!

Haeckel attempted to prove with drawings, that the vertebrate embryo, during its development, passes through stages of evolutionary development (1). However, these drawings were proved to be fakes. The fraud was already detected at the end of the 1860s (2) (3).

In 1997, the embryologist Richardson and his staff photographed various vertebrate embryos in different stages of development and arranged them in a similar way to that made by Haeckel. With the aid of these photographs, any layman can recognise how each type of vertebrate goes through its particular, individual developmental path taking the shortest route to becoming a viable individual (4).

Richardsons Embryos Table

Photographed version of the embryos table: The development of different embryos in the early, intermediate and late stage. The differences with Haeckel's drawings appear especially in the early stage.

It is quite incomprehensible how such a blatant falsification within a scientific work could have been propagated for over one hundred years, and that it can still be encountered in established teaching material to this day (5) (6) (7)!

These 14


(1) Ernst Haeckel, Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, 1868.
(2) Rolf Höneisen, Gefälschte Zeichnungen, factum Januar 1999, pages 8–11.
(3) Lee Strobel, Indizien für einen Schöpfer, Gerth Medien, 2006, page 42.
(4) M.K. Richardson, J. Hanken, M.L. Gooneratne, C. Pieau, A. Raynaud, L. Selwood and G.M. Wright, There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates, Anatomy and Embryology, 1997, page 196.
(5) Helmut Schneider, Natura,Biologie für Gymnasien, Band 2, Lehrerband, Part B, 7. to 10. Schuljahr, Ernst Klett Verlag, 2006, page 277.
(6) Horst Bayrhuber und Ulrich Kull, Linder Biologie, Lehrbuch für die Oberstufe, 21., neu bearbeitete Auflage, Schroedel Verlag GmbH, Hannover, (1998) pages 402, 406.
(7) Prof. Ulrich Weber (Süßen), Biologie Oberstufe, Gesamtband, Cornelsen Verlag, Berlin 2001, pages 257, 260.
(Image „Photographed version of the embryos table”)  M.K.Richardson et al., There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates, Anatomy and Embryology, 1997, page 196.

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