Evolution in Action

Andreas Suchantke; Translated by Norman Skillen

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Please note that there is an Errata slip available to download for this book.

  • A rich, dynamic and deeply meaningful book exploring life on earth
  • This large-format book is beautifully illustrated with intricate drawings and attractive colour photographs
  • A new understanding of evolution based on the author’s holistic approach to biological research

Presents an integrated view of evolution as a dynamic process, based on the author's lifetime of biological research.

285 x 216 mm
Adonis Press
Philosophy of the Natural World
190 colour and b/w illustrations
336 pages
Publication date:
20 May 2010


Our understanding of life on earth is always developing. In this age of genetics and microbiology, Andreas Suchantke brings a lifetime of holistic biological research to the question of the development and evolution of plants and animals.

Following Goethe's participatory method, and drawing on his observations from a number of continents, Suchantke presents evolution as an integrated dynamic process that unfolds on a far more fundamental level than Darwin's natural selection.

Beautifully illustrated through the author’s own drawings and colour photographs, this masterly work offers a rich, dynamic and deeply meaningful understanding of organic life.

Table of Contents

About the Author and this Book
Introduction: Metamorphosis--Evolution in Action

1. Archetype and Evolution--a Contradiction? Understanding

2. An Example of Metamorphosis: Goethe's Idea of the Vertebral Nature of the Cranial Bones

3. "From top to bottom the plant is all leaf." Formative Tendencies in the Domain of the Leaf
Everything is Leaf?
Metamorphosis in the Evolution of a Family of Plants:
the Pathway of the Cacti from the Forest to the Desert and back again
The "Primal Leaf": the Ocean's Green Carpet
The Leaf-form--Outcome of a Dialogue between Earth and Cosmos

4. The Blossom
The Polarity of Leaf and Flower
Flower Color
The Morphic Field of the Blossom

5. Interim Summary: Metamorphoses--the Key to Understanding the Nature of Life

6. The Various Forms of Metamorphosis in the Plant Kingdom
Metamorphosis and Juvenilization
The Development of the Leaf through the Ages of the Earth
Evolutionary Countermovements
Pinnacles of Plant Evolution: Orchids and Grasses
"Reproduction" and "Nutritive Multiplication"

7. Polarity and Threefold Organization: The Dynamics of Metamorphosis

8. Polarity and Threefold Structure in the Animal Kingdom
The Mammals
An Interim Note on Method
The Birds
The Insects
Insects in general
The middle group of insects

9. The Archetype in Action--
Metamorphosis and Threefold Structure in the Evolution of the Animal
Vacillation between the Inner and the Outer
Stages of Internalization
From Exoskeleton to Endoskeleton
Latimeria and the crossed alternation gait
The Formation of the Endoskeleton and the Limbs
Confirmation of Statements made by Rudolf Steiner
on the Head and Limb Formation in Human Beings,
and on the Question of how to Present this as a Teacher

10. The All-pervasive Endoskeleton
The Exoskeleton and the Endoskeleton in Coelenterates
Molluscs and their Skeletons

11. The Fate of Exoskeleton and Endoskeleton in the Further Course of Evolution
Life between Levity and Gravity
"Limbs" of the Head: Horns and Antlers
The Separating out of the Bodily Systems--
The Embodiment of the Archetype in the Human Being

Notes and References


'This remarkable, exquisitely illustrated study of the plant and animals worlds contains many fascinating bits of information … But the book is not just a catalogue of interesting facts. It is an invitation to view the world of nature -- plants, animals, and the human being -- in a new way. Metamorphosis is an engaging, thought-provoking synthesis of science, art, and philosophy that will appeal to any reader of high school age and above -- student, teacher, parent, scientist, artist -- anyone with an interest in the world in which we live … Metamorphosis is a challenging book … for all enquiring minds, the book is a valuable scientific and artistic resource and an invitation to a new level of respect and love for and wonder at the world of nature.'
-- Ronald Koetzsch, Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education, Spring/Summer 2010

'Metamorphosis is a truly exceptional and beautiful book which imparts extraordinary insight into the mysterious but highly ordered processes of evolution.'
-- Martin Lockley, Scientific and Medical Network Review, Summer 2010

'It would be impossible to convey the immense richness of Suchantke’s book in the few pages of a review … Metamorphosis will undoubtedly be both a comfort and a challenge to students of anthroposophy, and may well be a source of inspiration to people who have never heard of Rudolf Steiner.'
-- Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain Newsletter


Andreas Suchantke was born in Basle, Switzerland, in 1933. After studying zoology and botany, he taught life sciences at the Rudolf Steiner School in Zurich and became involved with teacher training. He has published several books in German about landscape and culture, with the theme of metamorphosis running throughout his work.


Available to buy in the US from Adonis Press

Please note that there is an Errata slip available to download for this book.

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