August Weismann (1834-1914)

German experimental biologist. Formulated and advocated the germ plasm theory, i.e., that the body is divided in germ cells, which can transmit hereditary information, and somatic cells, which cannot. This and the lack of any influence of the body's acquired characteristics on the germ cells made neo-Lamarckism essentially impossible, so he became a hard-line selectionist and initiated a controversy taken up by such prominent 1890's neo-Lamarckians as Butler, Eimer, and Spencer. Weismann's ideas led to the rediscovery of Mendel's laws, although he himself was unaware of them.


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