Ontogeny and Phylogeny (book)

Ontogeny and Phylogeny is Stephen Jay Gould's first technical book, published in 1977 by Belknap, a division of Harvard University Press. The book was originally conceived as a self-described "practice run to learn the style of lengthy exposition before embarking on my magnum opus about macroevolution," which was later published in 2002 as The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Ontogeny and Phylogeny explores the relationship between embryonic development (ontogeny) and biological evolution (phylogeny). The book also discusses the role recapitulation—the discredited idea that development replays the evolutionary transitions of adult forms of an organism's past descendants—had on biology, theology, and psychology. The second half of the book details how modern concepts such as heterochrony (changes in developmental timing) and neoteny (the retardation of developmental expression or growth rates) have in influencing major evolutionary transitions.


  1. Prospectus

Part One - Recapitulation

  1. The Analogistic Tradition from Anaximander to Bonnet

  1. Transcendental Origins, 1793-1860

  1. Evolutionary Triumph, 1859–1900

  1. Pervasive Influence

  1. Decline, Fall, and Generalizations

Part Two - Heterochrony and Paedomorphosis

  1. Heterochrony and the Parallel of Ontogeny and Phylogeny

  1. The Ecological and Evolutionary Significance of Heterochrony

  1. Progenesis and Neoteny

  1. Retardation and Neoteny in Human Evolution

  1. Epilogue



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