a stage in the individual development, or ontogeny, of an ancestral form, in which characters that are typical of adult descendants are manifested. The term was introduced in paleontology in 1901 by A. P. Pavlov, who described the prophetic phase in the development of the suture line of the shell in certain Mesozoic ammonites. He concluded that ontogeny may anticipate phylogeny as well as recapitulate it.
The prophetic phase is a result of the suppression of late stages of development in the course of evolution and the manifestation in the adult state of features that are characteristic of early stages in the development of ancestors. The outcome of the prophetic phase is a gradual shift of embryonal changes in ancestors to later stages of development in descendants.