(redirected from recapitulate)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to recapitulate: Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny


theory, stated as the biogenetic law by E. H. HaeckelHaeckel, Ernst Heinrich
, 1834–1919, German biologist and philosopher. He taught (1862–1909) at the Univ. of Jena. An early exponent of Darwinism in Germany, he evolved a mechanistic form of monism based on his interpretation of Darwin's theories and set forth in his
..... Click the link for more information.
, that the embryological development of the individual repeats the stages in the evolutionary development of the species. For example, the beginnings of gill clefts appear in both humans and fish, but while they are elaborated and eventually function in the fish, in humans, except for the modified gill cleft that becomes the Eustachian tube, they disappear as the embryo develops. Though drastically modified and qualified since its proposal, the historical significance of this theory—"ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis"—is that with its appearance it lent support to the theory of evolutionevolution,
concept that embodies the belief that existing animals and plants developed by a process of gradual, continuous change from previously existing forms. This theory, also known as descent with modification, constitutes organic evolution.
..... Click the link for more information.
 by seeming to corroborate it.



in biology, the repetition of the characteristics of remote ancestors in the ontogeny of existing organisms, specifically, in their structures, chemistry, and functions. The recapitulation theory was first formulated in 1859 by C. Darwin. The theory of phylembryogenesis, proposed by A. N. Severtsov, interpreted recapitulation in more morphological terms. The modern recapitulation theory was elaborated by I. I. Shmal’gauzen.

Recapitulation depends on the presence of a complex system of correlations in the organism and frequently manifests itself in the developmental peculiarities of interrelated organs and structures. Recapitulation results from shifts in the final formative stages of certain organs and not of the organism as a whole. These shifts represent extensions that arise from new correlations, which are introduced in ontogeny after the realization of basic morphogenetic processes.

There are many examples of recapitulation. In the embryos of land vertebrates, gill slits develop that correspond to the gill slits of their fishlike ancestors. In the ontogeny of higher vertebrates the succession of pronephros, mesonephros, and meta-nephros recapitulates the sequence of development of excretory organs in the phylogeny of their ancestors. In pteridophytes the dichotomous branching of their first fronds recapitulates the di-chotomous branching characteristic of their ancestors-Paleozoic psilophytes. During metamorphosis, the vision of frogs is dependent on the use of vitamin A2, just as in freshwater fish. By the time metamorphosis is completed, their vision is dependent on the use of vitamin A1, which is characteristic of land vertebrates.


Severtsov, A. N. Morfologicheskie zakonomernosti evoliutsii, Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Shmal’gauzen, I. I. Organizm, kak tseloe ν individual’nom i istoricheskom razvitii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938.
Mirzoian, E. N. Razvitie ucheniia o rekapituliatsii. Moscow, 1974.



1. Biology the apparent repetition in the embryonic development of an animal of the changes that occurred during its evolutionary history
2. Music the repeating of earlier themes, esp when forming the final section of a movement in sonata form
References in periodicals archive ?
That individual development does, in fact, recapitulate historical development is, curiously, taken for a positive fact by those College English essayists who either strongly imply or explicitly assert that the last thing we should let students attain is "objectivity.
The former recommends an accessible, organized medical database, one that actually recapitulates the medical logic used in comprehensive care.
And it's important to recapitulate and see what these developments mean for the future, especially with the presidential election imminent.
The last chapter of this serviceable if not adventurous dogmatic primer seeks to recapitulate the whole by scanning a number of trinitarian analogies and images, traditional and modern.
The egg cell's remaining material -- its cytoplasm -- would reorganize the genes of the patient's genome, so that the donor's genes would recapitulate each embryonic stem-cell stage their ancestral cells went through soon after the earlier formation of the fertilized egg that would become the recipient.
Malthus' convictions about social progress and the value of controlling base passions were embedded primarily in his desire to educate the poor, and Murray does not recapitulate this part of his program.
Faux recognizes that we cannot simply recapitulate New Deal-style liberalism, but we can build upon it in ways that will address the issues he clearly delineates.
Such procedures and results not only revive Fischinger but recapitulate the work of video pioneers Nam June Paik, Steina Vasulka, and Gary Hill--selections by whom were included in "What Sound Does a Color Make?
Our architecture will recapitulate the pan-human village clutter, with all functions, domestic, religious, retail, industrial, educational, horticultural, political, jumbled in together; no zoning; and it will be splendidly and comfortably decorated.
Four works referencing Spanish Baroque masterpieces depicting the Immaculate Conception (by Velazquez, Zurbaran, Murillo and Juan de Valdes Leal) recapitulate their source images via a formal vocabulary drawn from microscopic processes of asexual reproduction, three derived from Rhodomicrobium vannielii (erroneously referred to as "vannillie" in all the titles), the other from yeast.
Without constant application of pesticides and fertilizers, however, as well as continuous pruning, there are few roses that will recapitulate in coming months the freshness and the glow, in both flower and foliage, that they are exhibiting now.
They recapitulate and develop these assumptions about the role of language and social practice across a wide range of topics, covering epistemology, philosophy of mind, moral and political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history.