Icon 4 — Haeckel's Embryos

Ernst Haeckel and comparative embryology

Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) is both a hero and a villain in the biological community. He was a prominent figure in the late nineteenth-century comparative anatomy community and is famous for his phylogenetic trees, anatomical illustrations, support for evolution, and strong personality. He is perhaps as well known, and considerably misunderstood, for his studies in embryology and his dictum that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," called the Biogenetic Law.

Icons of Evolution? Figures

Figure 1




Icon 3 — Homology


Homology is a specific explanation of similarity of form seen in the biological world. Similarities can often be explained by common descent; features are considered homologous if they are shown to be inherited from a common ancestor. For example, although the arms of four-limbed vertebrates externally appear quite different, all have the same basic underlying skeletal and muscular pattern. Such shared patterns are best explained by the inference that they were inherited from a common ancestor that also had this pattern.

Icon 1 — The Miller-Urey Experiment

The experiment itself

The understanding of the origin of life was largely speculative until the 1920s, when Oparin and Haldane, working independently, proposed a theoretical model for "chemical evolution." The Oparin-Haldane model suggested that under the strongly reducing conditions theorized to have been present in the atmosphere of the early earth (between 4.0 and 3.5 billion years ago), inorganic molecules would spontaneously form organic molecules (simple sugars and amino acids).

Critique: "Of Pandas and People"

Of Pandas and People, the foundational work of the 'Intelligent Design' movement

by Nick Matzke

The creationist textbook Of Pandas and People was published in 1989 (second edition, 1993). This was the first book to frequently use now-common buzzwords such as "intelligent design," "design proponents," and "design theory." As such, Pandas represents the beginning of the modern "intelligent design" movement.

Who Promotes "Unlocking the Mystery of Life"?

According to the copy on the box containing the videotape of Unlocking the Mystery of Life, the tape "tells the story of contemporary scientists who are advancing a powerful but controversial idea -- the theory of intelligent design." Throughout the approximate sixty-five minute program, religion is barely discussed. You might expect that the video is being promoted by scientific organizations. Type "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" into the Google search engine, however, and the results

Unlocking the Mystery of Illustra Media

In the "Wedge" document setting forth the twenty-year plan of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now called the Center for Science and Culture), an early objective is a "PBS show such as NOVA treating design theory fairly." Supporters may have achieved a simulacrum of this part of their agenda. The intelligent design video Unlocking the Mystery of Life is receiving PBS distribution: on

Anti-evolution Books Chosen in 1998

NCSE's Analysis of the Melvindale, MI Science Curriculum Sub-Committee Book Recommendations

Note: In 1998, the Melvindale - Northern Allen Park Public School Board in Michigain voted to purchase 19 anti-evolution books for each of the district's Middle & Senior high school libraries. A motion to include the books as references in science classes was defeated.

Keep Science Free from Creationism

by Eugenie C. Scott