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No. 2: January 1978

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Hopeful monsters rather than gradual evolution?

S. J. Gould, who conducts a monthly column in Natural History reviews the sad history of Goldschmidt and his villification by the scientific establishment. Goldschmidt saw the fossil record as woefully inadequate to justify the assumption of gradual evolution of one form into another. Intermediate forms between separate species do not seem to exist in the fossil record and, if they did, they would probably not have been viable creatures. What good is half a wing?

Gould believes that Goldschmidt's "hopeful monster" concept will ultimately be dusted off. The key to "macromutation," Gould feels, is not to be found in major gene reorganizations that might produce a whole wing, feathers included, all at once, but rather in changes in the genes that control the development of embryos. Embryos in their early stages are pretty much alike regardless of species. Gould hopes further that the ruling neo-Darwinians will not be so hostile to new ideas and eventually acknowledge Goldschmidt's important work.

(Gould, Stephen J; "The Return of the Hopeful Monster," Natural History, 86: 22, June-July, 1977.)

From Science Frontiers #2, January 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987