Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876)

Embryologist. Developed germ-layer theory of development. His "biogenetic law" of recapitulation was a major reference point for 19th century evolutionary theory. Overextended by Meckel to imply that embryonic forms were exactly equivalent to adult forms of more primitive species, it actually only concerned progressive specialization of organs and, therefore, progressive divergence of embryonic forms during development. Discovered the notochord; first to observe the mammalian ovum (1827). The leading scientific opponent of Darwinism in Eastern Europe during the 1860's and 70's. Ironically, he encouraged Anton Dohrn's founding of the Stazione Zoologica in Naples.


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