Spontaneous generation refers to an obsolete body of thought on the ordinary formation of living organisms without descent from similar organisms. The theory of spontaneous generation held that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter and that such processes were commonplace and regular. For instance, it was hypothesized that certain forms such as fleas could arise from inanimate matter such as dust, or that
The doctrine of spontaneous generation was coherently synthesized by
Rejection of spontaneous generation is no longer controversial among biologists. By the middle of the 19th century, experiments of Louis Pasteur and others refuted the traditional theory of spontaneous generation and supported
Spontaneous generation refers both to the supposed processes by which different types of life might repeatedly emerge from specific sources other than seeds, eggs, or parents, and also to theoretical principles presented in support of any such phenomena. Crucial to this doctrine are the ideas that life comes from non-life and that no causal agent, such as a parent, is needed. The hypothetical processes by which life routinely emerges from nonliving matter on a time scale of minutes, weeks, or years (e.g. in the supposed seasonal generation of mice and other animals from the mud of the
The term equivocal generation, sometimes known as heterogenesis or xenogenesis, describes the supposed process by which one form of life arises from a different, unrelated form, such as tapeworms from the bodies of their hosts.
In the years following