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  Ovism (Latin, ‘eggism’) was a biological theory current in the 18th and 19th centuries. It held that the offspring of an individual are preformed within the egg. The theory arose after Regnier de Graaf (1641 - 1673) observed what he took to be a mammalian egg. When sperm were discovered by , Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723), the same suggestion was made. , Nicolaas Hartsoeker (1656 - 1725) even went as far as to suggest that each sperm contained a tiny preformed man, a homunculus. These suggestions were, however, not based on scientific evidence and stemmed from the earlier ideas of encapsulation, which stated that all the future generations of offspring were contained within the egg; some literal adherents of this view held that Eve had carried all of humankind. RB

See also abiogenesis; embryology; germ layer theory; germ plasm; pangenesis.



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