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The BBC Initiative To Resusciate The Myth Of Recapitulation

The waste bin of history is full of theories the invalidity of which has been realised in the face of scientific evidence and which have been disproved by a great many scientists. Scientific research is a process which constantly tests theories in the light of the evidence, and which thus progresses. The interesting thing, however, is that some scientists appear to deliberately avoid engaging in research that could be beneficial to mankind or contribute to this “progressing” process. In an astonishing way, these people prefer to engage in theories that reside in the scientific waste bin and that have many times been shown to be invalid. Although such endeavours contribute nothing to science, they do allow the researcher in question the opportunity to appear in the media for once again raising theories that were once the subject of wide debate. This happened very recently on the BBC News web site, in a report titled “Gill theory of human glands.”

Anthony Graham, of King’s College, London, and his colleague had the nerve to bring the law of recapitulation, that science had consigned to the waste bin at least 80 years ago, back onto the agenda. The researchers’ work was announced in the report headed “Gill theory of human glands” on the BBC News web site.

The law of recapitulation was proposed by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel in the second half of the 19th century, and was the result of efforts to provide support for the theory of evolution from the embryological development of vertebrates. Also known as the biogenetic law, recapitulation maintains that the embryological development of living things repeats the imaginary stages undergone by their alleged evolutionary ancestors, and is summarised as “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”

The striking truth about this so-called “law” is that it was backed up with drawings that were unashamedly fraudulent, and consists of a fantastical fairy tale.
(For more information on this subject, see
The end of the law of recapitulation as the subject of scientific debate came at least 80 years ago1. In short, the idea known as the “law of recapitulation” consists of an error that is languishing in the waste bin of science alongside “the flat Earth theory.”

For researchers blindly devoted to materialism, however, the fact that Darwinist myths are in the scientific waste bin does not prevent them from continuing to believe in them. Indeed, it can clearly be seen that Graham, whose claims were carried on the BBC web site, is one of these.

Based on his study on fish gills and the human parathyroid gland, Graham seeks to resuscitate the law of recapitulation’s tale that human beings possess clefts left over from gills. Evolutionists claimed that during the pharyngeal stage of the embryo, the shapes on the neck resembling clefts were vestigial gills and used this as a deceptive propaganda tool. Advances in embryology, however, clearly demonstrated that there was no such thing as a gill in human beings.

For example, the book Medical Embryology, published in 1975, writes:

Since the human embryo never has gills – branchia – the term pharyngeal arches and clefts has been adopted in this book. 2

It emerged that these so-called gills develop into glands that play a role in the regulation of the body’s calcium level, in other words they are functional. The creationist scientist Gary Parker, once an evolutionist, describes this fact:

The throat (or pharyngeal) grooves and pouches, falsely called “gill slits” are not mistakes in human development. They develop into absolutely essential parts of human anatomy. The middle ear canals come from the second pouches, and the parathyroid and thymus glands come from the third and fourth… another pouch, thought to be vestigial by evolutionists until just recently, becomes a gland that assists in calcium balance. Far from being useless evolutionary vestiges, then, these so-called “gill slits” are quite essential for distinctively human development. 3

Graham attempts to revitalise the evolutionary link that was once sought to be established between the parathyroid gland and gills, but which has since been definitively disproved, by pointing to a number of deceptive similarities.

The parathyroid glands consist of four glands that lie in a person’s neck, behind the thyroid gland, which regulate the body’s calcium levels by secreting a special hormone (parathyroid hormone, or PTH) when that level declines. These glands, each of which is a little smaller than a bean, constantly monitor the level of calcium in the bones and nervous system. In fish, however, when the calcium level declines, calcium is taken into the body from sea water by means of the gills, and equilibrium is thus established.

Resorting to a classical evolutionist tactic, Graham recounts a myth of how the functional and positional similarities between the two organs emerged through evolution, and claims that “the parathyroid gland evolved from a transformation of the gills when animals made the transition from the aquatic to the terrestrial environment.” Looking at the positional similarity between the two organs, the researcher offers the following logic in support of this claim:

“If the gland had emerged from scratch when tetrapods evolved it could, as an endocrine organ, have been placed anywhere in the body and still exert its effect.” 4

It is evident, however, that Graham’s logic is based solely upon evolutionist preconceptions. His reference to “the transition from the aquatic to the terrestrial environment” is a clear manifestation of this biased perspective. Another indication of this emerges in his attempt to make one consider the hypothetical situation of the parathyroid gland being located elsewhere in the body. Were the parathyroid to be located anywhere else, then according to Graham, the explanation for this would be that it had evolved in tetrapods from nothing. In other words, the assumption is that whether the parathyroid glands are in the neck or somewhere else in the body, they still emerged through evolution. There is no doubt that this makes the extent to which Graham’s mind is imprisoned by a dogmatic thought structure crystal clear.

It is evident that this tale constitutes no evidence for Darwinism. What Graham needs to do is to offer an explanation of how this system that regulates calcium levels could have come into being through random mutations, which he very definitely avoids doing. The reason is this: These systems are so complex that there is no chance of random mutations bringing them into existence. Darwinists naturally possess no evidence to show that this might be possible, and merely try to pull the wool over people’s eyes by saying, “B resembles A, so it must have evolved from A.”

Functional similarity may be only superficial because although the parathyroid glands are a “production” centre, gills are merely an “entry” point. The parathyroid gland is like a pump that constantly monitors the chemical composition of the water in a building’s system and that emits special secretions when necessary. Gills, on the other hand, are like an ordinary tap. The similarity in location between the two proves nothing. The bird wing and the human arm are in similar positions, for instance, but this does not demonstrate that the human arm evolved from the wing. Therefore, had the parathyroid gland been in a different position in relation to fish gills, Graham, whose aim is to pull the wool over people’s eyes by telling tall tales, could then easily have resorted to saying, “that means that the parathyroid glands changed position in humans during the evolutionary process.”


In an article published in Science magazine in 1969, Walter Bock, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University, referred to the attempts to retrieve the myth of recapitulation from the waste bin in these terms:

“The biogenetic law has become so deep rooted in biological thought that it cannot be weeded out in spite of its having been demonstrated to be wrong by numerous scholars.” 5

In fact, Graham’s study reported by the BBC News should be looked at somewhat askance in the name of science. Although invalidated theories follow a direct line from scientists’ minds to the waste bin of science, Graham seeks to achieve a move in the exact opposite direction with his “gill theory.” We call on Graham to realise that the claim of recapitulation, once regarded as a “law,” is in fact dead in the water, and to accept that he will never be able to resuscitate it with illusory evolutionary myths.

1. Keith S. Thompson, “Ontogeny and Phylogeny Recapitulated,” American Scientist, vol. 76, May/June 1988, p. 273
2. J. Langman, Medical Embryology (3rd edition), 1975, p. 262
3. Morris, Henry & Gary Parker, What is Creation Science?, (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1987), p. 64
4. “Gill theory of human glands,”
5. Walter Bock, Science, 164:684 (1969)

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