Homology and heterochrony: the evolutionary embryologist Gavin Rylands de Beer (1899-1972)

Abstract
The evolutionary embryologist Gavin Rylands de Beer can be viewed as one of the forerunners of modern evolutionary developmental biology in that he posed crucial questions and proposed relevant answers about the causal relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. In his developmental approach to the phylogenetic phenomenon of homology, he emphasized that homology of morphological structures is to be identified neither with the sameness of the underlying developmental processes nor with the homology of the genes that are in involved in the development of the structures. De Beer’s work on developmental evolution focused on the notion of heterochrony, arguing that paedomorphosis increases morphological evolvability and is thereby an important mode of evolution that accounts for the origin of many taxa, including higher taxa
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