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epigenesisepigenesis (lat.); Epigenese (ger.)

  • The formation of an organic germ as a new product; theory of epigenesis: the theory that the germ is brought into existence (by successive accretions), and not merely developed, in the process of reproduction. (OED)
    development epigenetic

    Horum fabrica à parte aliquâ, tanquam ab origine, incipit; ejúsque ope reliqua membra adsciscuntur: atque haec per epigenesin fieri dicimus; sensim nempe, partem post partem; éstque istaec, prae altera, propriè dicta generatio. […] in generatione tamen per epigenesin, res longe aliter se habet; neque idem fit, quod in nutritione; quæ diversarum partium, operæ societate invicem opitulantium, diversis actionibus peragitur: ubi nempe, alimentum prius attrahitur, & retinetur; postea concoquitur; mox distribuitur; tandemque agglutinantur.

    Harvey, W. (1651). Exercitationes de generatione animalium: 121; 334; cf. Bodenheimer, F.S. (1928-29). Materialien zur Geschichte der Entomologie bis Linné, 2 vols.: I, 315ff..


    In this Plate are represented, in Seventeen Figures, drawn from the Life, the slow and gradual Epigenesis Ranarum that is, all the remarkable Changes, and the several Gradations that are observed in the Growth of a Frog, from the Ovum, or Spawn, to a compleat and perfect Animal.

    Bradley, R. (1721). A Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature: 125.


    epigenesis 1: The theory that the embryo forms by successive gradual changes in the amorphous zygote; cf. preformation theory. 2: A change in the mineral character of a rock as a result of external influences.

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 82.