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Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen
BornApril 23, 1884
Kiev, Russian Empire
DiedOctober 7, 1963
Leningrad, Soviet Union
FieldZoologist, evolutionist
InstitutionsUniversity of Tartu
Kiev University, others
Alma materKiev University
Academic advisor  Alexey Severtzov
Known for"The Organism as a Whole in its Individual and Historical Development" (1938)
Factors of evolution: the theory of stabilizing selection (1949)

Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen (April 23, 1884 – October 7, 1963) was a Russian zoologist and evolutionist. He was one of the central figures in the development of the Modern evolutionary synthesis [1].



Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen was born in Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine) on April 23, 1884 to Luise Schmalhausen (Luisa Ludwigovna Schmalhausen) and Ivan (Johannes) Fedorovich Schmalhausen (1849–1894). His father was one of the founding fathers of Russian paleobotany[1].

In 1901 Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen graduated gymnasium and enrolled at Kiev University, but was expelled a year later after taking a part in the student disturbances. In 1902 he resumed his university studies at Kiev. Around 1902 he became acquainted with the founder of the Russian school of evolutionary morphology, Alexey Severtzov (1866–1936). He went on to become Professor of Darwinism at Moscow University and Director of the Institute for Evolutionary Morphology.

In 1904 Schmalhausen, under the guidance of Severtzov, completed his first scientific work on the embryonic development of lungs in a Grass Snake. He graduated from the university on 1909.

In 1910 Schmalhausen married Lydia Kozlova, a teacher of French from a small provincial Russian town.

In 23rd August 1948 he became victim of order 1208, one of a series signed by Minister of Higher Education in the USSR, S. Kaftanov, which led to the mass dismissals of many university professors. This destroyed his career, as it removed his professorship and also decreed that his books and research projects be destroyed. This was because he was accused of being a 'Weissmannist and pro-Morganist, who promoted the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, at a time when T. D. Lysenko and his followers were emphasising a process of heredity that focused on interaction with the environment and the inheritance of acquired characteristics along Lamarckian lines. This theory was being put into practice in agriculture under Michurin, who claimed to have improved wheat using Lamarckian techniques, and was central to the Stalin's politics which stressed that hard work led to improvement in future generations.

He had just written his book Factors of Evolution, which was translated into English and published in the west in 1949, and he continued to live in the USSR, returning to work in Morphology.

He died on October 7, 1963 in Leningrad[1].

Schmalhausen's Law

Schmalhausen's Law is a general principle that a population living at the boundary of its tolerance, in extreme or unusual conditions with regard to any aspect of its existence will be more vulnerable to small differences in any other aspect. Therefore the variance of data is not simply noise interfering with the detection of so-called "main effects", but also an indicator of stressful conditions leading to greater vulnerability.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Levit, Georgy S.; Uwe Hossfeld, Lennart Olsson (2006). "From the "Modern Synthesis" to Cybernetics: Ivan Ivanovich Schmalhausen (1884–1963) and his Research Program for a Synthesis of Evolutionary and Developmental Biology". Journal of Experimental Zoology 306B (2006): 89–106. Wiley - Liss Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
  2. ^ Richard Levins. Whose Scientific Method? (rtf). Retrieved on 2007-04-25.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ivan_Ivanovich_Schmalhausen". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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