Hence the budding of medusae exemplifies very clearly a common phenomenon in development, a phylogenetic series of events completely dislocated in the ontogenetic time-sequence.
The general proposition as to a parallelism between individual and ancestral development is no doubt indisputable, but extended knowledge of the very different ontogenetic histories of closely allied forms has led us to a much fuller conception of the mode in which stages in embryonic and larval history have been modified in relation to their surroundings, and to a consequent reluctance to attach detailed importance to the embryological argument for evolution.
In this, as in all morphological inquiries, two lines of investigation have to be followed, the phylogenetic and the ontogenetic. Beginning with its phylogeny, it appears, so far as present knowledge goes, that the differentiation of the shoot of the sporophyte into stem and leaf first occurred in the Pteridophyta; and, in accordance with the views of Bower (Origin of a Land..
But this phylogenetic differentiation of the organs was not what Wolff and Goethe had in mind; what they contemplated was an ontogenetic change, and there is abundant evidence that such changes actually occur.
In other words, a balance appears to be always sustained between the internal (hereditary and ontogenetic) and the external (environmental and selectional) factors of evolution.