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Autochthonous generation

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Autochthonous generation was a hypothesis of origins in the 19th century. The hypothesis rejected both evolution and creationism and proposed that all species formed separately from each other. It has been considered obsolete by the scientific community for over a hundred years, and only serves as a historical oddity of science.


The word "autochthons" (Greek meaning "sprung from the earth") was advocated by Greek philosophers such as Empedocles and Epicurus who believed in the autochthonous generation of plants, animals, and human beings from the earth.[1]

19th Century[edit]

It was revived in the 19th century as a "third way" alternative to both evolution and creation by thinkers such as Hermann Burmeister, Heinrich Georg Bronn and Carl Vogt who proposed that spontaneous formation of primordial germs from the Earth gave rise to new species.[2] The hypothesis of autochthons endorsed the fixity of species but also rejected supernatural creationism. Those who advocated the view of autochthons believed that a natural process could form species without evolution.

The hypothesis has been discussed in detail in a paper titled Neither Creation nor Evolution: the Third Way in Mid-Nineteenth Century Thinking about the Origin of Species by Nicolaas A. Rupke.[3] It was abandoned in the late 19th century as no mechanism was discovered which could instantaneously form species. The idea of autochthnous generation would be considered pseudoscience today, but was taken seriously in its day as the evidence for evolution was only just being discovered.

Modern version[edit]

There have been two modern versions of naturalistic independent origins have been proposed. The first is Periannan Senapathy's book The Independent Birth of Organisms. It presented a new theory to explain the existence of junk DNA. He proposed that large random sequences of DNA will naturally contain some functional protein-coding segments. That is how, he theorized that junk DNA came to be. So, there is no connection between the genome of organizations. All genomes were formed randomly in a primordial gene pool. The problems for this theories are numerous and collectively lethal :

  1. The existence of sexual species requires at least 2 starting individuals. (Actually, more) The probability is impossibly low that two individuals with compatible genomes will be synthesized in the same time. The problem becomes harder with smaller generation times.
  2. Several organisms (known as parasites) need other organisms to exist. So they just die unless the other organism exists in its environment. This is also true of all animals - herbivores or carnivores.
  3. Most large organisms need parental care. This includes while pregnancy of the mother and even after that. There cannot have been a first organism who needs parental care (except through special creation).
  4. Many organisms are strongly adapted to a particular environment. Like cactus to desert. How did these organisms move to their preferred environment from the primordial pool? The problem is worse for plants.
  5. Why is a substantial (just under 99%) of our genome identical with chimpanzees? And this is no freak example. We share most of our junk DNA with other apes. The probability of multiple random genomes sharing most of their genomes is infinitesimal.
  6. A genome is not an organism. There is little clue how a randomly assembled genome could become an organism.


  1. Myrto Garani Empedocles Redivivus: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius 2007, p. 82
  2. Robert J. Richards The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought 2009, p. 22
  3. Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology 10/2005