Garland Allen, Thomas Hunt Morgan, and Development

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3 Scopus citations


Garland E. Allen’s 1978 biography of the Nobel Prize winning biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan provides an excellent study of the man and his science. Allen presents Morgan as an opportunistic scientist who follows where his observations take him, leading him to his foundational work in Drosophila genetics. The book was rightfully hailed as an important achievement and it introduced generations of readers to Morgan. Yet, in hindsight, Allen’s book largely misses an equally important part of Morgan’s work – his study of development and regeneration. It is worth returning to this part of Morgan, exploring what Morgan contributed and also why he has been seen by contemporaries and historians such as Allen as having set aside some of the most important developmental problems. A closer look shows how Morgan’s view of cells and development that was different from that of his most noted contemporaries led to interpretation of his important contributions in favor of genetics. This essay is part of a special issue, revisiting Garland Allen's views on the history of life sciences in the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-601
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the History of Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Embryology
  • Garland E. Allen
  • Genetics
  • Regeneration
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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