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.
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 human being.
This idea (called embryonic recapitulation) was vigorously expounded by Ernst Haeckel from the late 1860s to promote Darwin’s theory of evolution in Germany, even though Haeckel did not have evidence to support his views.
Charles Darwin thought that "by far the strongest" evidence that humans and fish are descended from a common ancestor was the striking similarity of their early embryos. According to Darwin, the fact that "the embryos of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are closely similar, but become, when fully developed, widely dissimilar... reveals community of descent." To illustrate this, German Darwinist Ernst Haeckel made some drawings in the 1860s to show that the embryos of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) look almost identical in their earliest stages.
Haeckel used his faked drawings to support not only Darwinian evolution, but also his own "Biogenetic Law," which stated that embryos pass through the adult stages of their ancestors in the process of development. In Haeckel's words, "ontogeny [development] recapitulates phylogeny [evolution]." Darwin also believed in recapitulation; he wrote in The Origin of Species that early embryos "show us, more or less completely, the condition of the progenitor of the whole group in its adult state."
Haeckel's drawings were exposed as fakes by his own contemporaries, and his Biogenetic Law was thoroughly discredited by 20th century biologists. It is now generally acknowledged that early embryos never resemble the adults of their supposed ancestors. A modern version of recapitulation claims that early embryos resemble the embryos of their ancestors, but since fossil embryos are extremely rare, this claim is little more than speculation based on the assumption that Darwin's theory is true.
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!
Most informed evolutionists in the past 70 years have realised that the recapitulation theory is false.
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.
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’. 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’.
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’.
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). In an article describing Haeckel as ‘An embryonic liar’, he quotes Richardson:
"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."
Haeckel not only changed the drawings by adding, omitting, and changing features but, according to Richardson 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’.
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 calledDarwin and After Darwin and reproduced widely in English language biology texts.’
And even a bigger and more important question..? Since we have known these pictures to be fake for a 140 years, why are they being taught as real science, in children's books, in high school and college text books to this very day...?
I want you to remember this. Science doesn't say anything, scientist do. Scientist are people just like you and me have personal beliefs about ultimate reality and this is a perfect example of 140 years of scientific fraud.