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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