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J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol. 2004 Jan 15;302(1):5-18.

In search of evolutionary developmental mechanisms: the 30-year gap between 1944 and 1974.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4J1.


The approach I have elected in this retrospective of how I became a student of evo-devo is both biographical and historical, a case study along the lines of Waddington's The Evolution of an Evolutionist ('75), although in my case it is the Evolution of an Evo-devoist. What were the major events that brought me to developmental biology and from there to evo-devo? They were, of course, specific to my generation, to the state of knowledge at the time, and to my own particular circumstances. Although exposed to evolution and embryology as an undergraduate in the 1960s, my PhD and post-PhD research programme lay within developmental biology until the early 1970s. An important formative influence on my studies as an undergraduate was the work of Conrad Hal Waddington (1905-1975), whose writings made me aware of genetic assimilation and gave me an epigenetic approach to my developmental studies. The switch to evo-devo (and my discovery of the existence of the neural crest), I owe to an ASZ (now SICB) symposium held in 1973.

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