Happy Birthday, Ernst Haeckel! German biologist and artist, Haeckel (1834-1919) left his mark in thousands of beautiful, accurate and intricate drawings of life forms at a time before microscopes could take pictures. Did you know that he coined many terms that we take for granted today including ecology , phylum , stem cell and Protista? He is even credited for the first use of the phrase “First World War” to describe the “Great European War” in 1914.
Flamboyant and passionate, Haeckel was both spectacularly right and completely wrong! He sent his students to Indonesia to look for the remains of ancient humans, resulting in the first human fossil of Pithecanthropus (Homo erectus). He also believed that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: that embryos go through stages in development where they resemble lower orders of life. Although junior looked a bit like a fish at one time, but not literally, right? 😉
Read more about this fascinating scientist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Haeckel