In his 1894 book, Materials for the Study of Variation, William Bateson coined the term Homoeosis with the following prose: The case of the modification of the antenna of an insect into a foot, of the eye of a Crustacean into an antenna, of a petal into a stamen, and the like, are examples of the same kind. It is desirable and indeed necessary that such Variations, which consist in the assumption by one member of a Meristic series, of the form or characters proper to other members of the series, should be recognized as constituting a distinct group of phenomena. ...I therefore propose...the term HOMOEOSIS...; for the essential phenomenon is not that there has merely been a change, but that something has been changed into the likeness of something else. The book was intended as a listing of the kinds of naturally occurring variation that could act as a substrate for the evolutionary process and Bateson took his examples from collections, both private and in museums, of materials displaying morphological oddities. Interestingly the person who also coined the term &8220;Genetics&8221; proffered little in the way of speculation on the possible genetic underpinnings of these oddities. It wasn&8217;t until the early part of the next century that these changes in meristic series were shown to be heritable.
Jean S. Deutsch
Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
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