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From the “Modern Synthesis” to cybernetics: Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen (1884–1963) and his research program for a synthesis of evolutionary and developmental biology
Author: Levit, Georgy S. and Hossfeld, Uwe and Olsson, Lennart
Journal: Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Volume: 306B
Year: 2006
Pages: 89—106

Abstract 10.1002/jez.b.21087.abs Ivan I. Schmalhausen was one of the central figures in the Russian development of the “Modern Synthesis” in evolutionary biology. He is widely cited internationally even today. Schmalhausen developed the main principles of his theory facing the danger of death in the totalitarian Soviet Union. His great services to evolutionary and theoretical biology are indisputable. However, the received view of Schmalhausen's contributions to evolutionary biology makes an unbiased reading of his texts difficult. Here we show that taking all of his works into consideration (including those only available in Russian) paints a much more dynamic and exciting picture of what he tried to achieve. Schmalhausen pioneered the integration of a developmental perspective into evolutionary thinking. A main tool for achieving this was his approach to living objects as complex multi-level self-regulating systems. Schmalhausen put enormous effort into bringing this idea into fruition during the final stages of his career by combining evolutionary theory with cybernetics. His results and ideas remain thought-provoking, and his texts are of more than just historical interest. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 306B, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.