American Precursors Of Evo-Devo: Ecology, Cell Lineage, And Pastimes Unworthy Of The Deity

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Theory In Biosciences


The American precursors of evo-devo have numerous phenotypes. Fritz Muller, a German emigre living in Brazil, was one of the first post-Darwin evolutionary biologists to look seriously at the roles of larvae in constraining and permitting evolutionary change. His book, Fur Darwin, contains the germs of numerous ideas concerning recapitulation, larval ecology, punctuated equilibrium, and canalization. William Keith Brooks was interested in larval ecology and the mechanisms that promoted selectable variation. One of his students, E. B. Wilson, followed one of Mulller's paths and brought the notion of embryonic homologies into the area of developmental biology and animal classification. Frank R. Lillie took a different page out of Muller and emphasized larval adaptations.Merian spent much of her active scientific life in Surinam, as a member of a Pietist mission to this South American country.But since I want to look at scientists who followed Darwin's Origin of Species, I would not discuss these earlier naturalists. I also want to look at scientists who were writing at the time of Darwin, i. e., in the earliest strata of science influenced by his transformational hypothesis. Therefore, I will discuss two people in particular, Fritz Muller and William Keith Brooks. I will end by analyzing a debate between two younger scientists, Edmund B. Wilson and Frank R. Lillie, because they were embryologists who brought an "American'', cell lineage, perspective onto the disputes concerning the evolutionary questions of homology and adaptation.