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In Context #10 (Fall, 2003, pp. 5-6) copyright 2003 by The Nature Institute

The Form of Evolution

Developmental Dynamics in Humans and Other Primates: Discovering Evolutionary Principles Through Comparative Morphology, by Jos Verhulst, translation by Catherine Creeger. Ghent NY: Adonis Press, 2003. Hardcover, 413+17 pages, $39.95

Reviewed by Stephen L. Talbott.

Jos Verhulst could hardly have startled modern sensitivities more when he wrote:

Movement toward the human form is present in animal evolution from the outset.... In this sense, the emergence of humanity can be seen as the fulfillment of evolution's longstanding promise. (p. 362)

It is too startling, I suppose, for many to endure. Those evolutionary biologists who do manage to read the book all the way through will, I suspect, be those who realize that Verhulst has abandoned as fruitless the century-old battle between Darwinists and creationists. He is not concerned with organisms as mechanisms or with the question whether the "designer" of these mechanisms is natural selection or God. He appears to believe neither in that sort of design nor in the mechanisms it might produce.

Rather, he brings to his work in comparative morphology an overriding concern for organic form—