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AN ATLAS OF THE FERTILIZATION AND KARYOKINESIS OF THE OVUM
Macmillan, New York 1895 - Oversize quarto. vii, 32 pp. With 10 photographic plates of various stages of Cell and Embryonic Development, plus numerous diagrams in the text. Original blue buckram, gilt (signs of use; significant section of lower cover scuffed and discolored; pastedowns and endpapers a little dusty). A tight copy. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST AND ONLY EDITION OF E.B. WILSON'S PIONEERING "ATLAS OF THE FERTILIZATION AND KARYOKINESIS OF THE OVUM," a ground-breaking work owing to its astonishingly early synthesis of Cytogenetics. This volume holds important original insights into cytology, inheritance, and early cell biochemistry, and elegantly presents them for both general and scholarly audiences. Additionally it offers FOR THE FIRST TIME ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF CELLULAR DEVELOPMENT BY MEANS OF MICROSCOPIC PHOTOGRAPHY, here described as "photomicrographs." These photographs of the cell were created in collaboration with Edward Leaming of Columbia University. Incredibly, the "Atlas of the Fertilization" appeared five years before the 1900 discovery of Mendel's forgotten "Studies in Plant Hybridization" (1865). It also anticipated -- by four nearly decades -- the focus on the DNA structure of genes. The "Atlas" is a deceptively simple, yet profound synthesis; here Wilson presented the conceptual framework for future discussions of the physical and chemical basis of inheritance. "In an astounding, prophetic conclusion, Wilson states: 'These facts justify the conclusion that the nuclei of the two germ-cells are in morphological sense precisely equivalent, and that they lend strong support to Hertwig's identification of the nucleus as the bearer of hereditary qualities. The precise equivalence of the chromosomes contributed by the two sexes is a physical correlative of the fact that the two sexes play, on the whole, equal parts in hereditary transmission, and it seems to show that the chromosomal substance, the chromatin, is to be regarded as the physical basis of inheritance. Now, chromatin is known to be closely similar to, if not identical with, a substance known as nuclein (C29 H49 N9 P3 022 according to Miescher), which analysis shows to be a tolerably definite chemical composed of nucleic acid (a complex organic acid rich in phosphorus) and albumin. And thus we reach the remarkable conclusion that inheritance may, perhaps, be effected by the physical transmission of a particular chemical compound from parent to offspring'" (cited by Bruce Wallace, "The Search for the Gene," 1992, p. 32). Edmund Beecher Wilson (1856-1939) was "among the most important and prolific biologists in the last part of the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth centuries" (Garland Allen). His most famous contribution to scholarship was "The Cell in Inheritance and Development" (1896 et seq.) which summarized and critically evaluated the enormous amount of research done on the cell in the 19th- and early 20th-centuries. Wilson spent most of his career at Columbia University where he was successively adjunct professor of biology (1891-94), professor of invertebrate zoology (1894-97), and professor of zoology beginning in 1897. Wilson is credited as America's first cell biologist. LITERATURE: The contemporary review of "The Atlas" in The American Naturalist (Vol. 29, No. 348. [Dec., 1895], pp. 1075-1076) praises the work, and comments on Wilson's excellent reputation. Yet this review did not appreciate this remarkable synthesis in cell biology -- it failed to comment on Wilson's formulation of the physical and chemical basis of inheritance. See also Jane Maienschein, "From Presentation to Representation in E.B. Wilson's 'The Cell'" in: Biology and Philosophy Vol. 6 [1991], pp. 227-254. PROVENANCE: "Presentation Copy" (blind-stamp on title-page) from the author to Andrew Francis Dixon (1868-1936) of Trinity College Dublin, University Professor of Anatomy from 1903 until his death (see his obituary in Nature, vol. 137, p. 217). Dixon's "A Manual of Human Osteology" (19 [Attributes: First Edition; Signed Copy; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Michael Laird Rare Books LLC]
Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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