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November 1980

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Author Affiliations

From the Vascular Service, Department of Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center and Sepulveda Veterans Administration Medical Center, Sepulveda, Calif.

Arch Surg. 1980;115(11):1255-1257. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1980.01380110005001

When I have the opportunity to watch a bright young surgeon just a few years out of medical school as he casually stops his patient's heart and proceeds confidently with barely imaginable technical procedures while the patient's physiology is totally dependent on iatrogenic support, I feel like Darwin did as he looked at dinosaur bones in Patagonia. Darwin's companion and commanding officer, Captain FitzMorris, was a rigidly orthodox Roman Catholic who saw in the great strata full of dinosaur bones evidence that the Lord's hand had indeed been busy during the few millennia since Genesis; he believed these must be bones of great beasts who died in the flood. Darwin viewed these findings differently: he recognized this paleontological treasure as evidence that far, far more was there than could be accounted for in the limited years of Biblical history.

Likewise, we know that the evolutionary processes that led to my

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