Why is it still taught in schools?

Darwin wrote a section in his book "On the Origin of Species" on embryology using drawings of embryos made by Ernst Haeckel. A few years later, the drawings were disproven in 1874. However, this drawings of embryos are still being taught as truth today in schools?

Why? It is right to teach our kids stuff that isn't true?


Here are a list of textbooks that are still being used in schools today that teach Haeckel's drawings as facts:

1.Alton Biggs, Chris Kapicka & Linda Lundgren, Biology: The Dynamics of Life (Westerville, OH: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1998). ISBN 0-02-825431-7

2. Neil A. Campbell, Jane B. Reece & Lawrence G. Mitchell, Biology, Fifth Edition (Menlo Park, CA: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, 1999). ISBN 0-8053-6573-7

3. Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, Third Edition (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1998). ISBN 0-87893-189-9

Burton S. Guttman, Biology, (Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1999). ISBN 0-697-22366-3

4. George B. Johnson, Biology: Visualizing Life, Annotated Teacher's Edition (Orlando, FL: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1998). ISBN 0-03-016724-8

5. Sylvia Mader, Biology, Sixth Edition (Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1998). ISBN 0-697-34080- 5

6. Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph Levine, Biology, Fifth Edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000). ISBN 0-13-436265-9

Update 2:

@Lisa A : "On The Origin of Species" Chapter 13 after the Section titled "Morphology"

10 Answers

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    Please state the edition number in which Darwin supposedly used Haeckel's drawings. In my copy of the reprint of the first edition of Origin of Species, Darwin expressed interest in Agassiz's ideas about comparative embryology, but stated that they needed to be substantiated.

    As far as Haeckel's drawings are concerned, they are irrelevant as far as the modern studies of comparative embryology are concerned, Science has come a long way since the time of Darwin and Haeckel, which is something that you creationists do not seem to understand.

    You seem to think that because Haeckel's drawings have been discounted, ANY reference to comparative embryology can be discounted. In fact, comparative embryology DOES show that embryos DO show some of their ancestral EMBRYOLOGICAL characteristics, NOT the adult characteristics.

    For example, the pharyngeal arches.


    Cetacean (whales and dolphins) embryos have buds for FOUR limbs, just as the embryos for land-living vertebrates have, and just as the original land-living ancestors of cetaceans had.

    "Among mammals, modern cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are unusual in the absence of hind limbs. However, cetacean embryos do initiate hind-limb bud development. In dolphins, the bud arrests and degenerates around the fifth gestational week."


    There are numerous other examples showing embryonic structures that reflect an evolutionary ancestry.

    See also,


    Haeckel's fault was that he claimed that embryos went through the evolutionary ancestral stages and reflected the ancestor's adult form, and he exaggerated the drawings to show that.

    As for the text books you listed, I tried accessing them on Amazon to use the Look Inside view. The first book did not have the option.

    The second book (Campbell, Reece, & Mitchell, Biology), described comparative embryology, but, as far as I could see, Haeckel's drawings were not used, though the limitations of the Look Inside view may have contributed to that.

    What I DID find were two illustrations showing photographs of a bird and mammal embryos, NOT Haeckel's drawings. The book states the following:

    "Inspired by the Darwinian principle of descent with modification, many embryologists in the late nineteenth century proposed the extreme view that "ontology recapitulates phylogeny...The theory of recapitulation is an overstatement. Although vertebrates share many features of embryonic development, it is not as though a mammal first goes through a 'fish stage', then an 'amphibian stage', and so on. Ontogeny can provide clues to phylogeny, but it is important to remember that all stages of development may become modified over the course of evolution." pp 424-425.

    So, not only, as far as I can see, does the book NOT use Haeckel's drawings, IT SPECIFICALLY REFUTES the theory of recapitulation and states that it is an extreme view and an overstatement.

    So, unless you can give me a page number in the book with an illustration of Haeckel's drawings and that it considered those photos valid, I CAN ONLY CONCLUDE THAT YOU ARE A BALD-FACED LIAR.

    None of other books had the Look Inside view, but I would be willing to bet that they did NOT use Haeckel's drawings as evidence of evolution, but rather used the present-day understanding of comparative embryology.

    [Edit. One other thing, all of those books are over 12 years old--hardly current as far as science is concerned--and I doubt that any of them are still being used. And if Haeckel's drawings ARE in any of those books, they are probably there in a historical context.]

    Look, you creationists have NEVER been able to refute evolution. All you creationists do is to misrepresent the facts and even outright lie in attempting to refute evolution.

    If anyone had been able to actually disprove evolution, that person would have become world famous and would have got accolades for disproving a well-accepted tenet of biology.

    Do you really believe that YOU, as ignorant about evolution as you are, are able to do what no one else has been able to do?


    One other thing. Why are you so critical of the findings of modern science but so totally uncritical of the ancient myths and superstitions that you mindlessly believe.

    The Bible is full of myths, embellished histories, contradictions, false prophecies, phony prophecies, scientifically incorrect nonsense, and just plain nonsense.

    In source below, see my answers to these questions for examples.


  • 8 years ago

    And when I was in school, the Holocaust was not in text books. My niece's textbooks still list Pluto as a planet. We are taught that England brought a civilized way of doing things to the states, africa, and india. We aren't accurately told of the wholesale slaughter of the natives.

    One, the victor of any battle writes the history books. I am sure that Germany And Japan teach ww2 a little differently than us.

    Two, textbooks are expensive .

    Three, some misconceptions are so ingrained and so widely accepted, that it's easier to go with the flow. There is proof that Columbus did not discover America and yet it is what we were taught, our parents, and our grandparents. Imagine the generation spanning confusion if tomorrow all schools decided to correct the misinformation.

  • Lisa A
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Um... Wrong. There can be no answer to your question because your assumptions are wrong. It is not true that Darwin wrote a section in his book "On the Origin of Species" on embryology using drawings of embryos made by Ernst Haeckel.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Which schools?

    Name 1.

    I can't imagine a single school using 13 year old text books

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Funny, I was never taught using any such drawings, other than a brief discussion of the history of the science.

  • BC
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Troll alert.

  • Political correctness and hatred towards Christians.

  • 8 years ago

    I think what you said in your question is not correct

  • 8 years ago



  • 8 years ago

    got any evidence of that claim?

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