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Christina Cunnane's picture

Some ramblings about my paper

One of the major things I remember from AP Bio in eleventh grade was "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." Our teacher beat it into our heads. He said it about nine-billion times and based his whole teachings about embryology upon it. Mayr mentions it in his book in like the 2nd chapter. When I was reading it, I was like, Oh look, I remember that. I remembered the phrase and that it had something to do with evolution and embryology but I wasn't exactly sure what it was about. So with lack of a better topic, I chose to write my paper about it. I was going to mention how I was taught it in high school, etc. I started my search using wikipedia to get a general planning of my paper without looking up facts yet. After reading about it on wikipedia, I discovered that the statement was false! First I was immediately confused and chose to rely on "real" sources such as textbooks. I picked up my search in the biology textbook section of Collier. The first few text books I picked up had either the exact phrase in the glossary or had it under ontogeny in the text. Then I started not being able to find it in other text books. I could not find the phrase anywhere in texts that were dated after 1971. And of the earlier books I found it in, they stated the only reason they mentioned it was to make readers aware that the phrase was incorrect if readers had come across it in earlier texts.

I was genuinely shocked at my findings. I immediately called all of my classmates in highschool that I kept in touch with. All of them remembered the phrase. (He brow-beat us, I tell you). And the ones who remembered what exactly it was, recalled that he was in favor of it. He taught it to us saying it was true. Lacking my highschool text book, I can't remember what the text said about it but all of the biology text books I came across provide evidence against the literal translation of the statement.


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