Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Nägeli, Karl Wilhelm Von

Swiss microscopist, botanist at Zurich; correctly described cell division, identified chromosomes (transitory cytoblasts), and protoplasm. He is infamously remembered as the scientist who failed to understand Mendel’s work, even after an extended correspondence (c. 1860). Following Lord Kelvin’s inaccurate underestimation of the age of the earth, Nägeli (and others) suggested that evolution must occur by jumps (saltations), a notion that was later to take form as De Vries’ mutation theory. Nägeli was recognized by Charles Darwin in the Introduction to the third edition of the Origin of Species as a precursor.

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