You are here

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

by Stephen Jay Gould
Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1985. 520 pages.

Gould's first book, published in 1977, explored the idea of recapitulation from its first appearances among the pre-Socratics to its fall in the early twentieth century, when (as Gould argues) it collapsed not from the weight of contrary data but because of the rise of Mendelian genetics, which rendered it untenable. Although recapitulation failed, Gould argues, the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny still deserves consideration: "Despite its baroque excrescences and digressions, this book is primarily a long argument for the evolutionary importance of heterochrony — changes in the relative time of appearance and rate of development of characters already present in ancestors."