Re: Disowning Darwin

Brian D. Harper (
Sun, 30 Jul 1995 00:07:09 -0400

Stephen wrote:

{concerning Goodwin's quote of Mayr}:
>> (There is)"no clear evidence...for the gradual emergence of
>> any evolutionary novelty" -- Mayr quoted by Goodwin
>>unfortunately without giving a reference, not unusual for a popular
>>level book. Would anyone happen to know where Mayr says this?
SJ>I would be interested in obtaining a full quote and reference to this.
SJ>It does not sound like Mayr.

The source was pointed out to me in e-mail:

The incorporation of the geographical dimension was of particular
importance for the explanation of macroevolution. Paleontologists
had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's
postulate of gradualism, confirmed by the work of population genetics,
and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines
through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no
clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus
or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything
truly novel seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record.
This is not surprising, since new evolutionary departures seem to
take place almost invariably in localized isolated populations that
are not apt to leave a fossil record (Mayr 1954; 1963; Essay 25).
Therefore, a purely vertical approach is unable to solve the seeming
-- Mayr, _Toward a New Philosophy of Biology_, Harvard University
Press, 1988, p. 529-530.

I must say that after reading what Mayr actually said, I'm really
uncomfortable with Goodwin's quote, especially in view of the
"This is not surprising..." which follows. The implication when
reading Goodwin is that Mayr considers this to be a real problem.
In Goodwins defense, it should be noted that Mayr "explains" this
by saying why the evidence is not there rather than by supplying
evidence :-).


Brian Harper:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:=
"I believe there are 15,747,724,136,275,002,577,605,653,961,181,555,468,
044,717,914,527,116,709,366,231,425,076,185,631,031,296 protons in the
Universe and the same number of electrons." Arthur Stanley Eddington