Gould, Stephen Jay


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Gould, Stephen Jay,

1941–2002, American paleontologist and science writer, b. Queens, New York; grad. Antioch College (B.S., 1963), Columbia Univ. (Ph.D., 1967). With Niles Eldredge, Gould proposed (1972) the evolutionary theory of "punctuated equilibrium," which states that in geologic time and strata, the appearance of a new species occurs suddenly and without the continuous slow accretion of tiny variations, due to the nature of the evolutionary process and the relationship between the evolutionary and geologic timescales (see evolutionevolution,
concept that embodies the belief that existing animals and plants developed by a process of gradual, continuous change from previously existing forms. This theory, also known as descent with modification, constitutes organic evolution.
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); and that the new species then persists virtually unchanged in the fossil record for perhaps millions of years. The "missing links" in evolutionary development sought since the time of Charles DarwinDarwin, Charles Robert,
1809–82, English naturalist, b. Shrewsbury; grandson of Erasmus Darwin and of Josiah Wedgwood. He firmly established the theory of organic evolution known as Darwinism.
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 are thus unlikely to be found. Elaboration of these concepts has led to extensive scientific debate. Gould addressed these and other aspects of evolutionary thought in his magnum opus, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002). He began his lifelong teaching career at Harvard in 1967 and wrote many other books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977), The Mismeasure of Man (1981), Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1989), and the posthumously published The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox (2003), as well as essay collections drawn from his popular articles in Natural History magazine. Gould was also an avid baseball fan; his Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville, an essay collection, was also published posthumously in 2003.

Gould, Stephen Jay

(1941–  ) paleontologist, author; born in New York City. Influenced by a visit at age five to the Museum of American History, he became interested in biology and evolution. He took his B.A. from Antioch College (1963) and his Ph.D. from Columbia University, doing his dissertation on the fossil land snails of Bermuda. He joined the Harvard faculty in 1967 as a professor of geology; he would spend his entire career there, becoming full professor (1973) as well as curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. The world's leading authority on the land snails of the West Indies, he is also known for espousing a modification of the traditional Darwinian theory of evolution, what he called "punctuated equilibria"; namely, that new species occasionally appear more quickly than the slow, steady, gradual process of Darwinian natural selection accounts for. Although he wrote many articles and a couple of books for his fellow specialists, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977), he is best known for his regular column, "This View of Life," (since 1974) in Natural History magazine, essays on aspects of biology that are understandable—and pleasurable—to a general public. These are periodically collected in such volumes as Ever Since Darwin (1977), The Panda's Thumb (1980), and The Flamingo's Smile (1985). He also wrote a book, The Mismeasure of Man (1981), attacking the kind of biological determinism that uses false science to categorize people by "intelligence" testing. Known for his breadth of interests—from Bach to baseball—he also revealed in the late 1980s that he was suffering from a particularly virulent form of cancer.