Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Set of assumptions by August Weismann that (a) the germ-plasm consists of biophors (ultimate life units) that determine all the physical characters of a developing organism; (b) the germ-plasm is continuous from one generation to the next and is isolated from the soma (see Weismann’s barrier); and (c) natural selection is the overarching method by which congenital variations to the germplasm contribute to the formation of new species. Originally termed neo-Darwinism in the late nineteenth century, Weissmannism was Darwinism without the mechanism of acquired characters, and with a strong emphasis on natural selection. The term neoDarwinism came to refer to the beginnings of the Grand Synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s.

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