Weismann, August Friedrich Leopold (1834–1914)
German biologist regarded as the father of modern genetics.
In 1886, put forward the notion of the "continuity of the germ plasm." His
experiments, which involved cutting off the tails of mice for generation
after generation, disposed of Lamarck's
hypothesis that acquired characteristics could be inherited. (Although,
as Isaac Asimov has pointed out, he could have saved himself the trouble
by considering that after many generations of circumcision, Jewish males
display no reduction in their foreskin at birth.) Weismann proposed instead
that the reproductive cells of an organism pass on their contents to the
succeeding generation, unaltered by any changes that may have taken place
to the rest of the body, a tenet that has become fundamental to neo-Darwinism.