that they were faked,” he replied. “Apparently in some cases Haeckel actually used the same woodcut to print embryos from different classes because he was so confident of his theory that he figured he didn’t have to draw them separately. In other cases he doctored the drawings to make them look more similar than they really are. At any rate, his drawings misrepresent the embryos.” “That’s amazing!” I said. “How long has this been known?” “They were first exposed in the late 1860s, when his colleagues accused him of fraud.” I cocked my head. “Wait a minute—I saw these drawings in books that I studied when I was a student in the 1960s and ’70s—more than a hundred years later. How is that possible?” “It’s worse than that!” he declared. “They’re still being used, even in upper-division textbooks on evolutionary biology. In fact, I analyzed and graded ten recent textbooks on how accurately they dealt with this topic. I had to give eight of them an F. Two others did only slightly better; I gave them a D.” Anger was brewing inside of me. I had bought into Darwinism—and subsequently atheism—partially on the basis of drawings that scientists had known for a century were doctored. “This is really hard to believe,” I said. “Doesn’t it make you mad?” “Of course it does, because I was raised on this stuff too. I was misled,” he said. “There was no excuse for it. When some biologists exposed this in an article a few years ago, the evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard complained that this was nothing new. He had known about it for twenty years! It was no secret to the experts. “But then why was it still in textbooks? Even Gould said textbook writers should be ashamed of the way the drawings had been mindlessly recycled for over a century. At least he was honest enough to call it what it was: ‘the academic equivalent of murder.’ ” 27 THE SINS OF HAECKEL Wells’s first disclosure about Haeckel’s embryos was a stunner, but he had said there were a total of three problems with the drawings. I couldn’t wait to hear him address the others. “What are the other two problems?” I asked. “The minor problem is that Haeckel cherry-picked his examples,” Wells explained. “He only shows a few of the seven vertebrate classes. For example, his most famous rendition has eight columns. Four are mammals, but they’re all placental mammals. There are two other kinds of mammals that he didn’t show, which are different. The remaining four classes he showed—reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish—happen to be more similar than the ones he omitted. He used a salamander to represent amphibians instead of a frog, which looks very different. So he stacked the deck by picking representatives that came closest to fitting his idea—and then he went further by faking the similarities.” That sounded like a pretty serious breach of scientific protocol to me. “If that’s the minor problem,” I said sarcastically, “then what’s the major one?” Wells moved to the edge of his chair; clearly, this was tapping into his passion area. “To me, as an embryologist, the most dramatic problem is that what Haeckel claimed is the early stage of development is nothing of the sort. It’s actually the midpoint of development,” he explained. “If you go back to the earlier stages, the embryos look far more different from each other. But he deliberately omits the earlier stages altogether.” I didn’t immediately catch the full significance of this. “Why is that important?” “Remember Darwin claimed that because the embryos are most similar in their early stages, this is evidence of common ancestry. He thought that the early stage showed what the common ancestor looked like—sort of like a fish. “But embryologists talk about the ‘developmental hourglass,’ which refers to the shape of an hourglass, with its width representing the measure of difference.