Wolff, Caspar -Friedrich
WOLFF, CASPAR -FRIEDRICH (1733-1704), who is justly reckoned the founder of modern embryology, was born at Berlin in 1733, and studied anatomy and physiology under Merkel, and later at Halle, where he graduated in medicine in 1759, his thesis being his famous neoria Generationis. After serving as a surgeon in the Seven Years' War, he wished to lecture on anatomy and fessor of those subjects at the academy of St Petersburg, and acted in this capacity until his death in 1794.
While the theory of " evolution " in the crude sense of a simple growth in size and unfolding of organs all previously existent in the germ was in possession of the field, his researches on the development of the alimentary, canal in the chick first clearly established the converse view, that of epigenesis, i.e., of progressive formation and differentiation of organs from a germ primitively homogeneous (see EMBRYOLOGY, VOL viii. p. 165). He also largely anticipated the modern conception of embryonic layers, and is said even to have foreshadowed the cell theory. It is certain that he discerned, long before Goethe, the leafy homology of the parts of flowers.