Richard Goldschmidt: hopeful monsters and other 'heresies'

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 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).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

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

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

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

    Google Scholar 

  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).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

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

    Google Scholar 

  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).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  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).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

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

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

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

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

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

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

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

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

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

    Google Scholar 

  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).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

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

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

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

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  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).

    Google Scholar 

  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).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

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

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

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

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27

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

    Google Scholar 

  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).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

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

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30

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

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31

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

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

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

Affiliations

Authors

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

Cite this article

Dietrich, M. Richard Goldschmidt: hopeful monsters and other 'heresies'. Nat Rev Genet 4, 68–74 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg979

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing