The Diversity of Animals: An Evolutionary Study (1962), by Edward Stuart Russell
AuthorUlett, Mark A.
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In 1962 the journal Acta Biotheoretica published the final work of the biologist Edward Stuart Russell, a full eight years after his death. Entitled The Diversity of Animals: an Evolutionary Study, this short, unfinished manuscript on evolution received little recognition in the scientific presses despite both its technical discussion of adaptations in decapods (crabs, shrimp, etc.) and its different approach to evolutionary theory. The precise reason for this neglect is unclear. This book is a continuation of Russell's philosophical perspective, organicism, an interpretation that focuses on the organism as the primary unit of analysis for the biological sciences. Russell first argued for this position in several of his earlier works, such as The Interpretation of Development and Heredity (1930) and The Directiveness of Organic Activities (1946). What was new in The Diversity of Animals lies in Russell's orthogenetic theory of evolution. By "orthogenetic" he means evolutionary change in definite directions. The overall thesis of this work is that transformations in evolution that occur in early ontogenesis, or development, are the best explanation for most diversity in nature. The consequence of Russell's argument is that an understanding of development is fundamental to an explanation of the major transformations in the evolutionary history of life.