Int. J. Dev. Biol. 42: 475 - 478 (1998)
© UPV/EHU Press

Embryonic development as a quasi-historical process.

D A Weisblat

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3200, USA.

ABSTRACT This essay explores the nature of embryonic development in contrast to other kinds of processes. Anhistorical processes are highly reproducible and are therefore subject to standard scientific analysis. Such analyses yield results that may well apply universally. Euhistorical processes are non-reproducible. Therefore they are not subject to standard scientific analysis, but are investigated primarily by retrospective speculation. Information gained from such analyses is of relatively limited applicability. Embryonic development exhibits traits associated with both anhistorical and euhistorical processes and is therefore defined as a quasi-historical process. The quasi-historical nature of developmental processes places constraints on the nature of the solution we can hope to obtain for the problem of development, but also provides a means of exploring the euhistorical process of evolution.