Many parasitic worms have amazingly complex life cycles. In the 1800’s scientists were attempting to explain their observations of what we now understand to be different stages of these worms’ development. The interesting history of this area of science is recounted by John Farley in his book, The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin.
Friedrich Küchenmeister (1821–1890) was a prominent German researcher in this area. It was believed by the experts of the time that some worm cysts which developed in some animals were degenerate forms, “strays,” not an intermediate stage of development. Küchenmeister vigorously opposed this notion because it ran counter to his world view. Farley (1974, p. 61) quotes him: “Such a theory of error contradicts the wisdom of the Creator and the laws of harmony and simplicity put into nature.”….
According to Farley (1974, p.62),
Küchenmeister was, of course, correct; the cysticerci are a necessary part of the tapeworm life cycle. Most of the evidence at that time, however, pointed in the opposite direction. He was not only taking ssue with some of the great names of that period — such as von Siebold and Dujardin — but also with the empirical evidence at their disposal. To do this obviously required a deep commitment, the type of commitment that comes from deeply held religious views…
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