am 3. Oktober 1997
Stephen Jay Gould takes an insightful look at one of evolution's most misunderstood concepts, namely, that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Beyond demonstrating why E. Haeckel's theory concerning the relationship between ontogenic development and phylogenetic history is incorrect, Gould assumes the daunting task of explaining the complexities of developmental timing and how changes in this timing (e.g., heterochrony) may account for evolutionary change. It is dynamic expose of how scientists across time have sought to understand the relationships between evolution and development. Gould is masterful at explaining such a overwhelming topic and brings the science alive for all who read it. I highly recommend it with the utmost enthusiasm for all who have any interest in the science of development.
am 30. August 1998
Ontogeny and Phylogeny is one of the books most responsible for my very strong interest in evolution/developmental biology. I have heard that it is considered a very important book, and in my humble opinion, would agree.
In fact, I would consider it even superior to many of Stephen Jay Gould's later works, some of which are sectioned off into smaller essays that really span a wide range of topics and scale of thought.
am 7. März 1999
First, let me praise the book for bringing the very important issue of developmental regulation in macroevolution to the biological community and to the public. However, to note a caveat, Gavin de Beer did much the same thing with "Embryos and Ancestors" decades earlier, and in a way surprisingly more appropriate and relevant to those asking specific biological questions. The main problem with Ontogeny and Phylogeny is that the bulk of it (at least for the first half) is occupied by a collection of esoteric curiosities of little interest to most scientists: Freudian psychoanalysis, educational policy, pre-Aristotelian teleology, and 19th century teratology, craniometry, and phrenology. This material may be good material for Gould's Natural History columns or for coffee house talk, but not for an ostensibly technical work on evolutionary biology. Basically, most readers share my opinion that the important biological points which lie buried in the book could have been presented and done adequate justice to in a book one quarter the size of Ontogeny and Phylogeny. A message to all writers of scientific books: get to the point!!