August 21, 1826 (a Monday)

Hand homology (1870)

On this date, Karl Gegenbaur was born in Wurzburg, Germany. As a professor of anatomy at the University of Jena (1855-1873) and at the University of Heidelberg (1873-1903), Karl Gegenbaur was a strong supporter of Charles Darwin’s theory of organic evolution, having taught and worked, beginning in 1858, with Ernst Haeckel, eight years his junior. Gegenbaur is best known for his work entitled Grundriss der vergleichenden Anatomie (Leipzig, 1874; 2nd edition, 1878), translated into English by W. F. Jeffrey Bell (as Elements of Comparative Anatomy, 1878), with additions by E. Ray Lankester. While recognizing the importance of comparative embryology in the study of descent, Gegenbaur stressed the greater value of comparative anatomy as the basis of the study of homologies, i.e., of the relations between corresponding parts in different animals, such as the bones in the arm of a human, the foreleg of a horse, and the wing of a bird.

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