Ernst Haeckel's Gigantic Fraud on
You know, a human embryo goes through it’s evolutionary
stages as it develops. Are your children being taught this? How many children
have been murdered in the womb because the "fetus" was only at the "fish" stage?
Don’t think that the Lord is not keeping an account. Pardon for all sins is
available but the Lord is keeping an account. Do you not think that he who made
the eye cannot see, that he who made the ear cannot hear?
Please read this article from Answers in Genesis by Russell
Grigg. Thank you Russell for your work. First published in "Creation" magazine
Volume 20 Issue 2, pages 49-51 March 1998.
It has long been known that one of the most effective
popularizers of evolution fudged some drawings, but only now has the
breathtaking extent of his deceit been revealed.
Most people have heard of or been taught the idea that the
human embryo goes through (or recapitulates) various evolutionary stages, such
as having gills like a fish, a tail like a monkey, etc., during the first few
months that it develops in the womb.
The idea has not only been presented to generations of
biology/medical students as fact, but has also been used for many years to
persuasively justify abortion. Abortionists claimed that the unborn child being
killed was still in the fish stage or the monkey stage, and had not yet become a
This idea (called embryonic recapitulation) was vigorously
expounded by Ernst Haeckel from the late 1860’s to promote Darwin’s theory of
evolution in Germany, even though Haeckel did not have evidence to support his
views. (note 1)
Lacking the evidence, Haeckel set out to manufacture the
data. He fraudulently changed drawings made by other scientists of human and dog
embryos, to increase the resemblance between them and to hide the
dissimilarities. We reported this particular fraud in a recent issue of
"Creation" magazine. (note 2)
Haeckel’s German peers (notably, in 1874, Wilhelm His Sr,
professor of anatomy at the University of Leipzig) were aware of this fraud and
extracted a modest confession from him, in which he blamed the draughtsman for
blundering-without acknowledging that he himself was the draughtsman. (note 2)
Most informed evolutionists in the past 70 years have
realized that the recapitulation theory is false. (note 3)
Nevertheless, the recapitulation idea is still advanced as
evidence for the theory of evolution in many books and particularly
encyclopedias and by evolutionary popularizers like the late Carl Sagan.
But wait ---- there’s more
When evolutionists say that the recapitulation theory is
false, they usually do not mean to admit that comparing embryos gives no
evidence of common ancestry. In fact, they still frequently highlight the
assumed similarities between embryos in their early stages (called embryonic
homology) as evidence for evolution. This assumption is based on the idea that
such similarities are ‘common knowledge’. (note 5)
This alleged similarity of embryos has for years been
resting, consciously or unconsciously, on a set of 24 of Haeckel’s drawings
which he first published in 1866 in his ‘Generalle Morphologie der Organismen’,
and then repeated in 1874 in his more popular ‘Anthropogenie’ (see drawings
below). These purport to show embryos of fish, salamander, turtle, chicken, pig,
cow, rabbit and human in three stages of development.
Haeckel’s famous (infamous) set of 24 drawings purporting to
shoe eight different embryos in three stages of development, as published by him
in ‘Anthropogenie’, in Germany, 1874.
The various stages, particularly the earliest ones, show
substantial similarity. Ever since these drawings appeared, it has been assumed
that they have given something close to the truth about embryos of vertebrate
species. So much so that they still appear in textbooks and popular works on
evolution. (notes 6,7)
In fact no one has bothered to check—until now. It turns out
that Haeckel’s fraud was much worse than anyone realized. It did not just affect
the idea of recapitulation, it turns out that the similarities are much, much
less than anyone thought.
Fraud examined and exposed
Michael Richardson, a lecturer and embryologist at St
George’s Hospital Medical School, London has exposed this further fraud, in an
article in the journal ‘Anatomy and Embryology(8),
recently reviewed by ‘Science’(9) and ‘New Scientist’(10).
Richardson says he always felt there was something wrong with
Haeckel’s drawings, ‘because they didn’t square with his [Richardson’s]
understanding of the rates at which fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals develop
their distinctive features’(8). He could find no
record of anyone having actually compared embryos of one species with those of
another, so that ‘no one has cited any comparative data in support of the idea’(8)
He therefore assembled an international team to do just
that—examine and photograph ‘the external form of embryos from a wide range of
vertebrate species, at a stage comparable to that depicted by Haeckel(8).
The team collected embryos of 39 different creatures,
including marsupials from Australia, tree frogs from Puerto Rico, snakes from
France, and an alligator embryo from England. They found that the embryos of
different species are very different. In fact, they are so different that the
drawings made by Haeckel ( of similar looking human, rabbit, salamander, fish,
chicken, etc. embryos) could not possibly have been done from real specimens.
Nigel Hawkes interviewed Richardson for ‘The Times’ (London)
(note 11). In an article describing Haeckel as ‘An embryonic liar’, he
"This is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud. It’s
shocking to find that somebody one thought was a great scientist was
deliberately misleading. It makes me angry…What he [Haeckel] did was to take a
human embryo and copy it, pretending that the salamander, and the pig and all
the others looked the same at the same stage of development. They don’t…These
are fakes.’ (note 11)
Top Row: Haeckel’s drawings of several different embryos,
showing incredible similarity in their early ‘tailbud’ stage
Bottom Row: Richardson’s photographs of how the embryos
really look at the same stage. (From left: Salmo salar, Cryptobranchus
allegheniensis, Emys orbicularis, Gallus gallus, Oryctolagus cuniculus, Homo
sapiens.) Many modern evolutionists no longer claim that the human embryo
repeats the adult stages of its aleeged evolutionary ancestors, but point to
Haeckel’s drawings (top row) to claim that it repeats the embryonic stages.
However, even this alleged support for evolution is now revealed as being based
upon fake drawings.
Haeckel not only changed the drawings by adding, omitting,
and changing features but, according to Richards and his team,
‘He also fudged the scale to exaggerate similarities among
species, even when there were 10 fold differences in size. Haeckel further
blurred differences by neglecting to name the species in most cases, as if one
representative was accurate for an entire group of animals.’ (note 9)
Ernst Haeckel’s drawings were declared fraudulent by
Professor His in 1874 and were included in Haeckel’s quasi confession, but
according to Richardson,
‘Haeckel’s confession got lost after his drawings were
subsequently used in a 1901 book called ‘Darwin and After Darwin’ and reproduced
widely in English language biology texts.’ (notes 9,12)
Will there now be a rush by libraries, publishers and sellers
of evolutionist books to withdraw from circulation, rewrite and otherwise
acknowledge the fact that the idea of embryonic similarities’ suggesting
evolution is largely based on academic fraud?
More of Richardson’s photographs of embryos at the same
‘tailbud’ stage of development and to the same scale, showing the huge
differences between various species. (From left: Petromyzon marinus, Acipenser
ruthenus, Bufo bufo, Erinaceus europaeus, Felis catus, Manis javanica, Canis
The embryo photos used in this article were kindly supplied
by Dr Michael K. Richardson. They originally appeared in M.K. Richardson et al.,
"There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: implications
for current theories of evolution and development’, Anatomy and Embryology,
196(2): 91-106, 1997, copyright Springer-Verlag GmbH & Co., Tiergartenstrasse,
69121 Heidelberg, Germany. Reproduced here with permission.
References and Notes
The superficial resemblance
of various embryos to one another had attracted the attention of zoologists
before Haeckel, including J.F. Meckel (1781-1883), M.H. Rathke (1793-1860), and
Etienne R.A. Serres (1786-1868) who theorized that embryos of higher animals
pass through stages comparable to adults of lower animals, and K. von Baer
(1792-1876) who was a creationist and opposed this view as well as vigorously
opposing Darwinism (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1:789, 1992). It was Haeckel who
popularized the idea with his catchy phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”
(meaning that the development of the human embryo in the womb is a rerun of the
steps in man’s alleged evolutionary rise from a primitive creature).
Grigg, ‘Ernst Haeckel: Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit’,
“Creation” magazine 18 (2): 33-36, 1996.
3. E.g. Stephen J. Gould has said,
‘Both the theory [of recapitulation] and “ladder approach” to classification
that it encouraged are, or should be, defunct today.’ Dr Down’s Syndrome,
Natural History, 89:144, April 1980, cited by Henry Morris, The Long War Against
God, Baker Book House, Michigan, p.139, 1989.
4. E.g., World Book Encyclopedia,
6:409-410, 1994; Colliers Encyclopedia, 2:138, 1994; Carl Sagan, The Dragons of
Eden, Book Club Associates, London, pp. 57-58, 1977.
5. Creationists have for many years
pointed out that similarity does not prove common ancestry, but can equally well
arise from common design, common pathways for engineering efficiency, etc. See
“DNA Similarity of Humans and Chimps—does it prove common ancestry? AIG Article
6. E.g. Scott Gilbert,
‘Developmental Biology’, Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts, fifth edition pp.
254 and 900, 1997, where Gilbert wrongly attributes the drawings to ‘Romanes,
1901’. And George B. Johnson, ‘Biology’, Mosby-Year Book, St. Louis, p. 396,
7.E.g. Mahlon Hoagland and Bert
Dodson, ‘The Way Life Works’, Ebury Press, London, p. 174, 1995, presents
Haeckel’s drawings in full color, no less! And Richard Leakey, ‘Illustrated
Origin of Species’, Faber and Faber, London, p. 213, 1986, where Leakey calls
Haeckel’s recapitulation dogma ‘misleading’ but still reproduces the drawings.
8. Michael Richardson et al,
Anatomy and Embryology, 196(2): 91-106, 1997.
9. Elizabeth Pennisi, Haeckel’s
Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered, Science 277(5331):1435, 5 September 1997.
10. Embryonic fraud lives on, New
Scientist 155(2098):23, September 1997.
11. Nigel Hawkes, The Times
(London), p. 14, 11 August 1997.
Creationists have always
been aware of Haeckel’s frauds, though not necessarily its extent. See Ian
Taylor, ‘In the Minds of Men’, TFE Publishing, Toronto, pp.185ff., 275ff., 1986;
Wilbert H. Rusch Sr, Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny, Creation Research
Society, 6(1): 27-34, June 1969; Douglas Dewar, Difficulties of the Evolution
Theory, Edward Arnold & Co., London, Chapter VI, 1931. Also Assmusth and Hull,
Haeckel’s Frauds and Forgeries, Bombay Press, India, 1911.