Francis Maitland Balfour (1851-1882)
AuthorUlett, Mark A.
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During the 1870s and early 1880s, the British morphologist Francis Maitland Balfour contributed in important ways to the budding field of evolutionary embryology, especially through his comparative embryological approach to uncovering ancestral relationships between groups. As developmental biologist and historian Brian Hall has observed, the field of evolutionary embryology in the nineteenth century was the historical ancestor of modern-day evolutionary developmental biology. Balfour's work was notably inspired by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and Ernst Haeckel's account of the relationships between embryology and evolution. Only a decade after Balfour's program of research began, an alpine climbing accident robbed Britain of its most promising embryologist.