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the theory formulated by E.H. Haeckel that people during their embryonic development pass through stages similar in general structural plan to the stages their species passed through in its evolution; more technically phrased, the theory that ontogeny is an abbreviated recapitulation of phylogeny.
The discredited theory that the stages in an organism's embryonic development repeat the stages in the evolutionary history of the species. Also called Haeckel's law, recapitulation theory.
biogenetic law(1) Biogenesis.
(2) Recapitulation theory, see there.