Ludwig Hermann Plate

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Ludwig Hermann Plate (16 August 1862 – 16 November 1937) was a German zoologist and disciple of Ernst Haeckel. He wrote a "thorough and extensive defence" of Darwinism, but before Mendel's work had been assimilated.[1][2]

He was born in Bremen. He studied the natural sciences in Jena where he attended the lectures of Ernst Haeckel. He studied zoology at University of Marburg. He was offered the Chair of Zoology at Jena University from the help of Haeckel.[3] He coined the term Pleiotropy.[4]

Evolutionary views

Plate was a proponent of what he called old-Darwinism. According to Plate, old-Darwinism follows the ideas of Charles Darwin but also integrates other mechanisms of evolution.[3] He attempted to combine Lamarckism, natural selection and orthogenesis into a unified framework. Many of the factors of the modern evolutionary synthesis were first mentioned by Plate. He held that random mutation and natural selection have a major role in evolution. He also acknowledged population thinking.[3]

He differed to the modern synthesis in his acceptance of other mechanisms of evolution such as the inheritance of acquired characteristics and orthogenesis. Plate coined the term orthoselection. This term was later utilized by modern synthesis theorists such as Julian Huxley and Bernard Rensch. In his later writings he adopted research from genetics into his evolutionary writings.[3]


  • Die Anatomie und Phylogenie der Chitonen (1901)
  • Über die Bedeutung des Darwin'schen Selektionsprincips und Probleme der Artbildung (1903)
  • Selektionprinzip und Problem der Artbildung: ein Handbuch der Darwinismus (1913)
  • Die Abstammungslehre: Tatsachen, Theorien, Einwände und Folgerungen in kurzer Darstellung (1925)


  1. Huggett, Richard. (1997). Catastrophism. Verso. p. 101. ISBN 1-85984-129-5
  2. Levit, Georgy S; Hoßfeld, Uwe. (2006). The Forgotten “Old-Darwinian” Synthesis: The Evolutionary Theory of Ludwig H. Plate (1862–1937). NTM International Journal of History & Ethics of Natural Sciences, Technology & Medicine 14: 9-25.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Levit, Georgy S; Olsson, Lennart. (2007). Evolution on Rails Mechanisms and Levels of Orthogenesis. In Volker Wissemann. Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology 11/2006. Universitätsverlag Göttingen. pp. 113-115.
  4. Stearns, Frank W. (2010). "One Hundred Years of Pleiotropy: A Retrospective". Genetics 186: 767-773.