Richard Goldschmidt: hopeful monsters and other 'heresies'

Article metrics

Abstract

Richard Goldschmidt is remembered today as one of the most controversial biologists of the twentieth century. Although his work on sex determination and physiological genetics earned him accolades from his peers, his rejection of the classical gene and his unpopular theories about evolution significantly damaged his scientific reputation. This article reviews Goldschmidt's life and work, with an emphasis on his controversial views.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Richard Goldschmidt at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Berlin 1931.

References

  1. 1

    Gould, S. J. in The Material Basis of Evolution 13–42 (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1982).

  2. 2

    Stern, C. in Richard Goldschmidt: Controversial Geneticist and Creative Biologist (ed. Piternick, L. K.) 68–99 (Birkhäuser, Basel, Switzerland, 1980).

  3. 3

    Sarich, V. in Richard Goldschmidt: Controversial Geneticist and Creative Biologist (ed. Piternick, L. K.) 27–31 (Birkhäuser, Basel, Switzerland, 1980).

  4. 4

    Wilson, A. C., Sarich, V. & Maxson, L. The importance of gene rearrangements in evolution: evidence from studies of rates of chromosomal, protein, and anatomical evolution. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 71, 3028–3030 (1974).

  5. 5

    Maienschein, J. What determines sex?: a study of converging approaches, 1880–1916. Isis 75, 457–480 (1984).

  6. 6

    Gilbert, S. The embryological origins of the gene theory. J. Hist. Biol. 11, 307–351 (1978).

  7. 7

    Richmond, M. Richard Goldschmidt and Sex Determination: The Growth of German Genetics, 1900–1935. Thesis, Indiana Univ. USA (1986).

  8. 8

    Allen, G. Opposition to the Mendelian chromosome theory: the physiological and developmental genetics of Richard Goldschmidt. J. Hist. Biol. 7, 49–92 (1974).

  9. 9

    Gilbert, S. in The American Development of Biology (eds Rainger, R., Benson, K. & Maienschein, J.) 311–346 (Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1988).

  10. 10

    Goldschmidt, R. Intersexuality and the endocrine aspect of sex. Endrocrinology 1, 433–456 (1917).

  11. 11

    Goldschmidt, R. The Mechanism and Physiology of Sex Determination (Methuen & Co., London, 1923). (Translated by William Dakin.)

  12. 12

    Goldschmidt, R. Die sexuellen Zwischenstufen (Springer, Berlin, 1931).

  13. 13

    Goldschmidt, R. In and Out of the Ivory Tower (Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle, 1960).

  14. 14

    Goldschmidt, R. Lymantria. Bibliographia Genetica 111, 1–185 (1934).

  15. 15

    Goldschmidt, R. Experimentelle mutation und das problem der sogenannten paralleinduktion. versuche an Drosophila. Biologischen Zentralblatt 49, 437–448 (1929).

  16. 16

    Dietrich, M. R. On the mutability of genes and geneticists: the 'Americanization' of Richard Goldschmidt and Victor Jollos. Perspect. Sci. 4, 321–345 (1996).

  17. 17

    Carlson, E. A. The Gene: A Critical History (Iowa State Univ. Press, Amees, 1966).

  18. 18

    Goldschmidt, R. in Science in the University 183–210 (Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1944).

  19. 19

    Muller, H. J., Prokofyeva, A. & Raffel, D. Minute intergenic rearrangement as a cause of apparent 'gene mutation'. Nature 135, 253–255 (1935).

  20. 20

    Goldschmidt, R. Spontaneous chromatin rearrangements in Drosophila. Nature 140, 767 (1937).

  21. 21

    Dietrich, M. R. in The Concept of the Gene in Development and Evolution (eds Beurton, P., Falk, R. & Rheinberger, H.) 91–114 (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 2000).

  22. 22

    Goldschmidt, R. Letter, L. C. Dunn Papers, Am. Phil. Soc. Libr., Philadelphia (Goldschmidt to Dunn, 27 May 1940).

  23. 23

    Goldschmidt, R. The Material Basis of Evolution (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1940).

  24. 24

    Dietrich, M. R. Richard Goldschmidt's 'heresies' and the evolutionary synthesis. Hist. Biol. 28, 431–461 (1995).

  25. 25

    Goldschmidt, R. Physiologische Theorie der Vererbung (Springer, Berlin, 1927).

  26. 26

    Goldschmidt, R. Physiological Genetics (McGraw–Hill, New York, 1938).

  27. 27

    Wright, S. The material basis of evolution by R. Goldschmidt. Sci. Monthly 53, 165–170 (1941).

  28. 28

    Dietrich, M. R. From hopeful monsters to homeotic effects: Richard Goldschmidt's integration of development, evolution, and genetics. Am. Zool. 40, 28–37 (2000).

  29. 29

    Goldschmidt, R., Hannah, A. & Piternick, L. The podoptera effect in Drosophila melanogaster. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 55, 67–294 (1951).

  30. 30

    Goldschmidt, R. Theoretical Genetics (Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle, 1958).

  31. 31

    Simpson, G. G. Tempo and Mode in Evolution (Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1944).

  32. 32

    Goldschmidt, R. 'An empirical evolutionary generalization' viewed from the standpoint of phenogenetics. Am. Nat. 80, 305 (1946).

Download references

Acknowledgements

I thank M. McPeek and the reviewers for their many useful comments, and S. Bickel for her assistance with the arcana of Drosophila genetics.

Author information

Related links

Related links

DATABASES

FlyBase

podoptera

tetraltera

FURTHER INFORMATION

Michael Dietrich's laboratory

Glossary

ARISTAPEDIA

A Drosophila homeotic mutant first described by Elizaveta Balkaschine in 1929 in which aristae (bristle-like structures at the tip of the antenna) are replaced by legs.

BAR EYE

A Drosophila mutant in which the eye is reduced to a narrow bar owing to a reduction in the normal number of eye facets.

BITHORAX

A Drosophila homeotic mutant first described by Calvin Bridges in 1915 in which the anterior part of the third thoracic segment is replaced by the anterior part of the second thoracic segment.

BLISTERED

A Drosophila mutant first described by Calvin Bridges and T. H. Morgan in 1919 in which the wings appear blistered, small and pointed.

DUMPY VORTEX THORAXATE

A Drosophila mutant first decribed by Calvin Bridges and T. H. Morgan in 1919 in which wings appear truncated, and altered wing-vein vortices and pits are present on the wing cuticle.

HALTERES

Small wing-like appendages that are located on the third thoracic segment of Drosophila and act as balancing organs.

HOMEOTIC MUTATION

A mutation that causes one structure to develop in a place where another structure would normally develop.

IMAGINAL DISC

A group of embyronic cells that differentiate and develop into adult structures such as legs and wings in Drosophila.

PENETRANCE

A term introduced by Oscar Vogt to describe the degree of expression of a trait.

PHENOGENETIC

An explanation of the relationships between phenotype and genotype.

PLEXUS

A Drosophila mutant first described by Calvin Bridges and T. H. Morgan in 1919 in which wings have extra veins, especially at their tips and margins.

POSITION EFFECT

A change in phenotype caused by a change in the location of a gene.

PURPLE

A Drosophila mutant first described by Calvin Bridges in 1919 in which the adult eye colour appears to be purple.

SCUTE

A Drosophila mutant first described by Calvin Bridges in 1919 in which the differentiation of bristles on the head and thorax are altered.

SHIFTING BALANCE THEORY

A theory of evolution in which random genetic drift and different forms of selection are integrated to explain evolving populations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading