Books Received | Published:

(1) Anthropogenie oder Entwickelungsgeschichte des Menschen; Keimes- und Stammes-geschichte (2) Morphologische Studien Als Beitrag zur Methodologie zoologischer Probleme (3) Untersuchungen über den Phototropismus der Tiere (4) Graber's Leitfaden der Zoologie für höhere Lehranstalten

Nature volume 71, pages 265266 (19 January 1905) | Download Citation



(1) THE first edition of Prof. Haeckel's book appeared thirty years ago, and the fourth edition in 1891. With each reappearance the book has increased in size and in stateliness, and this is particularly true of the new edition. The sequence of editions reads like a developmental process, say in crustaceans; there is some ecdysis, there is addition of new parts, there is a growing beauty, but the essence remains the same. The veteran evolutionist has gone over the whole work again; he has incorporated new discoveries, he has added fresh arguments and illustrations, but the gist of the book remains unaltered. Our familiar old acquaintances—the Monera and the Gastræadæ, the biogenetic law and its helpmate cœnogenesis, dysteleology and monism, and so on—are all as alive as ever, and with much to say for themselves. As Haeckel says, the book may have its faults; but has anyone given a better popular presentation of the concrete facts as to the position of the human organism in its place in nature, or, for that matter, has anyone else ever tried? We may object to some of his embryology and to some of his phylogeny and to all his philosophy, but here is a vivid, picturesque account of man's development and of his plausible pedigree. It is a historic document which will occupy an honourable place among the archives of biology. It is an achievement on the author's part to have made this revision now—adding about 100 pages, three score and ten figures, ten plates, and eight genetic tables; we could not expect him to change his cherished convictions. Nor, as he says, has he seen any reason to do so. The parts we like least are where he brings in new or relatively new discoveries somewhat casually, as we may illustrate by referring to the centrosome which he calls a “nicht färbares Körperchen.” What is it, then, that stains so intensely with iron—hæmatoxylin? (2) Dr. Garbowski has ceased to find satisfaction in the conventional formulæ often used in seeking to interpret phylogenetic advances. He has ceased to believe in the homology of the germinal layers, in the gastræa theory, and in the cœlome theory; and he thinks that the usual application of the so-called biogenetic law is for the most part fallacious. In all this he is not so solitary a sceptic as some of his sentences would lead one to suppose.

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