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gemmuleGemmule (ger.)

  • 1) A small gem or gemma; spec. a ciliated embryo of one of the Cœlenterata; an encysted mass of sponge-particles, from which new ones are produced. (OED)

    In this state it [scil. the ovum] […] is termed a gemmule.

    Carpenter, W.B. (1844). Animal Physiology: 560.

  • 2) In Darwin’s theory of pangenesis, one of the hypothetical units conceived of as capable of reproducing the part from which it is thrown off. (OED)  

    I assume that cells, before their conversion into completely passive or “formed material,” throw off minute granules or atoms, which circulate freely throughout the system, and when supplied with proper nutriment multiply by self-division, subsequently becoming developed into cells like those from which they were derived. These granules for the sake of distinctness may be called cell-gemmules, or, as the cellular theory is not fully established, simply gemmules.

    Darwin, C. (1868). The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2 vols.: II, 374.


    According to this hypothesis, every unit or cell of the body throws off gemmules or undeveloped atoms.

    Darwin, C. (1871). The Descent of Man, vol. I: 280.