Donald Anderson worked on invertebrate embryology until 1974, producing superb accounts of several polychaetes, onychophorans, pterygote insects, and branchiopod and cirripede crustaceans. His work had a functional approach and for the first time used the concept of fate maps applied to the invertebrates.
These methods, used on his own first hand studies and applied to the existing accounts of development throughout the annelids and arthropods, have given spectacular advances in our understanding of phylogeny and relationships in providing evidence that the Arthropoda are polyphyletic. His investigation of reproduction and development of Australasian invertebrates forms an allied field.
From 1974 to 1994, he focused his attention on the development, functional morphology and evolution of cirripede crustaceans, culminating in a monograph on the subject. He also made a major contribution to biological education in Australia, for which he was awarded the Order of Australia in 1984.