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No. 19: Jan-Feb 1982

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Species Stability Is A Real Problem

The reader should refer to the following item for the basic paleontological facts discussed by Williamson. The biological implications of the mollusc lineages drawn up by Willianson are rather profound. In the present item, Williamson complains that scientists and critics have focussed primarily upon his claim that his mollusc lineages support the punctuated evolution model (which they do) but avoid his main point: namely, that the lineages are static over very long periods of time. They do not change slowly, bit by morphological bit, into new species as an evolutionist would expect. Instead, they remain un-changed until they become extinct. This striking aspect of the fossil record is not predicted by neo-Darwinism -- and there is the rub!

(Williamson, Peter G.; "Morphological Stasis and Developmental Constraint: Real Problems for Neo-Darwinism," Nature, 294:214, 1981.) Comment. In neo-Darwinism, evolution unfolds by small accumulated changes, the causes of which may be chemicals in the environment, nuclear radiation, and other "stresses." Neo-Darwinism goes hand-in-hand with geological Uniformitarianism, both of which are favored philosophically by scientists because slow change is more amenable to scientific explanation. The large sidewise steps of punctuated evolution are difficult to explain in terms of known "forces." In this context, the radical concepts of directed panspermia and the impact of viruses on evolution may be important!

From Science Frontiers #19, JAN-FEB 1982. 1982-2000 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