archetype(redirected from Archatypal)
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concept of the original type, the prototype of the skeletal structure of all vertebrates, advanced by R. Owen (1847). The archetype theory is based on the comparison of traits common to the skeletons of various vertebrates, and it has created an abstract model, an ideal type of skeleton, which has not been completely realized by any animal, either extinct or living. This theory served as an expression of the natural philosophical school of morphology during the 18th and 19th centuries, when a reflection of general ideas was sought for in the structure of human beings and animals. Basic to the archetype is the ideal vertebrate system, consisting of eight parts (the body, the neural and hemal arches, the awned and transverse appendages, and the ribs). The entire skeleton is depicted as some kind of series of such modified vertebrae. In the skull Owen distinguished four vertebrae: the occipital, parietal, frontal, and nasal. C. Darwin reinterpreted the archetype theory; he conceived of it not as an abstract prototype but as an ancestral form which had actually existed at one time.
REFERENCESOwen, R. Report on the Archetype and Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton: Report of the 16th Meeting . . . of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. . ., 1846. London, 1847.
B. S. MATVEEV