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Earnst Haekelís Lie



*Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) had an overmastering obsession to convince people that evolution was true. Like certain men after his time, he was willing to go to any length in providing supposed substantion for the theory. Here is additional information on "Haeckel' hoax."

"Haeckel's theory, known as the "Law of Recapitulation" and the "Biogenetic Law," was first suggested by Meckel (1781-1883). Karl von Baer (1792-1876) saw the error in Meckel's idea and wrote against it.

But it was *Ernst Haeckel (1834) that elevated it to the supposed status of a "law" and proclaimed the theory as widely as he could. He wrote a number of books advocating evolution, and in all of them recapitulation was a dominant theme and a primary evidence.

Both *Darwin and *Huxley were thrilled that someone had, at last, come forward with some actual evidence for evolution:

"He [Haeckel] became convinced he had discovered the most basic law of evolution: `Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,' or the development of an embryo (ontogeny) is a speeded-up replay of the evolution of the species (phylogeny). It was an enormously influential idea, utilized by both Darwin and Huxley, who were impressed with Haeckel's detailed illustrations comparing embryonic development in various animals and man. In their earlier stages, according to Haeckel's drawings, pigeons, dogs, and humans looked identical."—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 205.


Haeckel developed his charts and used them, not only in lecture halls, but in books as well. They first appeared in his Natural History of Creation (Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte) in 1868. In this book, Haeckel stated that the ova and embryos of different animals—and also man—are, at certain periods in their development, perfectly identical. In proof of this assertion, he placed on page 242 three woodcuts that were indeed identical! One was purported to be the ova of man, the second a monkey, and the third a dog, each enlarged 100 times. The three woodcuts were totally identical. What a striking evidence this was to anyone who saw it!

Yet it was a fake. Haeckel prepared a woodcut, and then had the printer print it, one above the other, three times in a column!

The captions label them the embryos of a dog, a chicken, and a tortoise. All three are identical. In the accompanying text, on page 249, Haeckel explains that close examination of the actual embryos revealed the same total likeness that the woodcuts did. Once again, Haeckel was writing fiction. As for the woodcuts, the same device was used: One woodcut had been prepared, and then printed three times in a row, side by side, with dog, chicken, and tortoise labels underneath.

In this book, Haeckel mentioned the sources from whence he prepared his woodcuts. This greatly added to the credibility of the woodcuts. But, of course, any scientist could check his sources. Rutimeyer and His did just that.


In 1868, L. Rutimeyer wrote an article, entitled "Referate," which appeared on pages 301-302 of the Archiv fur Anthropologie (Archives of Anthropology). In that article, Rutimeyer, professor of zoology and comparative anatomy, at the University of Basel, reviewed two of Haeckel's books, Natural History of Creation (Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte), and his Uber die Enstehung and den Stammbaum des Menschengeschlechts, both of which had been newly published the same year that Rutimeyer's review was published: 1868.

"Haeckel claims these works to be both easy for the scientific layman to follow, and scientific and scholarly. No one will quarrel with the first evaluation of the author, but the second quality is not one that he seriously can claim. These are works, clothed in medieval formalistic garb. There is considerable manufacturing of scientific evidence perpetrated. Yet the author has been very careful not to let the reader become aware of this state of affairs."—*L. Rutimeyer, "Referate," in Archiv fur Anthropologie (1868).

Rutimeyer then continues on and discusses the fraudulent woodcuts. For example, the dog embryo and human embryo, shown on page 240 of Haeckel's book, are completely identical. Haeckel maintained that he faithfully copied the dog embryo from Bischoff (4th week). Rutimeyer then reprinted the original drawing made by Bischoff of the dog embryo at 4 weeks, and the original of human embryo at 4 weeks made by Haeckel. The originals were very much different!

Then Rutimeyer notes that, elsewhere in Haeckel's book, that same woodcut is used to portray a dog, a chicken, and a tortoise!

Rutimeyer was a well-known German scientist living at that time. He regularly had articles in each yearly volume of Archiv fur Anthropologie, yet his book review was never translated into English nor published in Britain or America!

Wilhelm His, Sr., was another highly respected contemporary German scientist. The first major scientific book on embryology was prepared by His, Sr., and published in 1880. His not only perfected the serial sections technique, so important in embryological studies, but he also pioneered the wax plate method of accurate scale reconstructions from such sections. He was the first to identify the bundle of His in the heart.

Wilhelm His, Sr., wrote a series of letters to Carl Ludwig; these were later published in Leipzig under the title, Unsere Koperform und das Physiologische Problem Ihrer Entstehung. The fourteenth letter in the series dealt with Haeckel's fraudulent activities. As the basis for His' analysis, he used the 5th edition of Haeckel's Natural History of Creation.

Mr. His explained, in detail, the extent of the fake woodcuts and the false claims in the accompanying text. He also noted that, in another book by Haeckel, the Anthropogenie, two figures of human embryos in the blastula stage were shown with the allantois clearly visible, yet the allantois never appears in the blastula stage of growth.

He also discussed the 24 figures in the two-page spread on pages 256-257 of Haeckel's book. He angrily declared them to be gross distortions of reality, and not true to life, and said that Haeckel did it in order to show similarity of form, even though such similarity did not actually exist.

He also pointed out that Haeckel was a professor at the University of Jena, which was noted for having excellent optical facilities. Thus, according to His, there was no excuse for these fraudulent productions. His concluded by denouncing Haeckel as a fraud, and henceforth as eliminated from the ranks of scientific research as a worker.

"When critics brought charges of extensive retouching and outrageous `fudging' in his famous embryo illustrations, Haeckel replied he was only trying to make them more accurate than the faulty specimens on which they were based."—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 206.

Another scientist, who at about the same time also protested against Haeckel's fakeries, was Albert Fleischmann (Die Descenddztheoried, 1901, pp. 101-152).

Many college textbooks still use Haekel's charts today...