Antoine Serres

1786 - 1868

Antoine Étienne Renaud Augustin Serres (1786 - 1868) was a French physician and embryologist. In 1810 Serres received his medical doctorate in Paris, and beginning in 1839 he taught comparative anatomy at the Jardin des Plantes. In 1841 he became president of the French Academy of Sciences and his work was influenced by the theories of Lorenz Oken (1779-1851), Georges Cuvier, and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.

With German anatomist, Johann Friedrich Meckel Serres attempted to provide a link between comparative embryology and a "pattern of unification" in the organic world. It was based on a belief that within the entire animal kingdom there was a single unified body-type, and that during development, the organs of higher animals matched the forms of comparable organs in lower animals. This theory applied to both vertebrates and invertebrates, and also stated that higher animals go through embryological stages analogous to the adult stages of lower life-forms in the course of their development, a version of the recapitulation theory later proposed in the statement "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" of Ernst Haeckel.