Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich (1834-1919)

German anatomist, physician and Professor at Jena after 1865. Known for his biogenetic law that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, Haeckel was a strong supporter of Darwin’s ideas and promoted them in the German literature, even strategizing in correspondence with Darwin as to how best to promote natural selection and to discourage its detractors. Haeckel first linked humans to apes in a tree-like diagram in General Morphology (1866), coined the name Pithecanthropus alalus and both the term for and the concept of ecology. In his History of Creation (1868) Haeckel proposed that there were 36 human races. Unfortunately, Haeckel was also among those who linked natural selection to cultural evolution in the German-speaking world; see social Darwinism.

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