Recapitulation Theory

In recent posts I have been discussing the various forms of inheritance.  My latest posts have addressed biological transgenerational inheritance. Now I introduce a controversial subject, and state that Recapitulation Theory can be viewed as transgenerational inheritance.  Physician and biologist Ernst Haeckel is famous for saying “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” That is, ontogeny (embryonic development of the person from a fertilized ovum), recapitulates (replays or repeats) phylogeny (the group one ancestrally and evolutionarily belongs to and for humans that is Chordata Phylum). For Haeckel, ontogeny is a rapid embryonic recapitulation of the long history of the phylum we have evolved from. That makes for a phylogenetic continuity for homo sapiens. I dismiss the critics, and I enthusiastically endorse the idea that Recapitulation Theory can be viewed as inheritance linkage. The human embryo does have a Chordata Phylum linkage to all embryonic vertebrates (birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals) during notochordal development. Recapitulation of chordata history begins at conception where initial growth takes place in the amniotic fluid of the placenta —> our continuation with the Sea (review a previous post related to Primordial Soup). Though initially rejected by many biologists, there are some who came to support embryonic recapitulation.  Simonnet said, “when, in the mother’s womb, a child is conceived, it passes through the full stages of animal evolution, albeit in a speeded-up form.” (1996)  And, for Stephen Gould there exists a linkage between individual ontogenesis and species phylogenesis. I enjoy studying about recapitulation inheritance because it gives me an enhanced appreciation of  our lengthy, intricate, and entangled inheritance. It also helps me understand that all humans are intimately connected, and thus all forms of prejudice and discrimination against other humans is inexcusable. Recapitulation Theory is open to debate, and I am open to support or nonsupport for this theory.

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