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Related to recapitulation: recapitulation theory


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
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, 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.
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 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 ?
Whitmarsh's basic insight that the recapitulation is a marker of the plot's developing resolution is attractive, but I prefer to think that rather than simply implying the taming of complexity through recapitulation, Chariton imitated the Anabasis here to achieve very specific effects directly related to the larger correspondences between the novel and Xenophon's work.
This beautiful text aptly illustrates and clarifies how they are involved in the process of recapitulation.
128) of Mary Barnes's work--specifically recapitulation theory--pro vides a solution to the conundrum identified by Monteverde (1999).
A lingering criticism of Haeckel's recapitulation theory (Richardson et al.
After estimating and totaling the costs of labor, materials, equipment, and subcontracting for each task and direct job overhead costs on separate worksheets, the estimator should enter these amounts on a recapitulation sheet, as shown in Appendix H.
As we do each year, when the dust settles in Washington after passing legislation relevant to the security cooperation community the DISAM Journal prints a recapitulation of the new points of law which affect our operations.
Transformation in the second phase of life is the re-enactment, or recapitulation, of earlier prototypes: (1) the process of conception, leaving the spirit world to enter a body; (2) the process of birth, leaving the mother's womb to enter the world; (3); the rapprochement subphase of the separation-individuation process (the third developmental stage, from 18 months to 3 years), finding balance between dependence and engulfment, between intimacy and alienation; (4) the conflicted needs for belonging and independence of the adolescent developmental stage; and (5) the conflicts in marital interaction and other adult relationships, including the mid-life rapprochement between adult and parent, all recapitulations of the developmental phase.
In the first, he says that a writer's career, the evolution of a "vision," involves an endless process of "self-echoing and recapitulation.
The sparrow eventually burbles the original theme again, a version of a sonata's final recapitulation.
According to Schutze, a recapitulation of experiences contains the following cognitive figures: (1) the biography holder or event holder; (2) the frame of events and experiences; (3) situations, life milieus, and social structures as the setting of orientation and condition; and (4) the real shape of life history.
The whole work concludes with a recapitulation of Capon's categories, which have now become 'Six Principles of Architecture'.
The consequence in musical terms is that 'the tonic due at the beginning of the recapitulation is either suppressed or devalued'.