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Steve Jay Gould Essay

1016 words - 5 pages

A five-year old boy and his father walk through the American Museum of Natural History in New York (“World Biography”). They explore the exhibits, but one in particular stands out to the child. In front of him stands a Tyrannosaurus rex. The five-year old boy was Stephen Jay Gould. He is quoted saying, “As we stood in front of the beast, a man sneezed; I gulped and prepared to utter my Sherman Yisrael. But the great animal stood immobile in all its bony grandeur, and as we left, I announced that I would be a paleontologist when I grew up,” (qtd. in “World Biography”). This proclamation was the beginning to a long and successful career in paleontology and evolution.
Stephen was born ...view middle of the document...

Similar to Gould’s mother, she was also an artist (“World Biography”). On October 3, 1965 the couple married (“World Biography”). In 1966, Stephen took a job at his Alma mater, Antioch College, as a professor of geology (“World Biography”). His time there did not last long and he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to work at Harvard University as an assistant professor (“World Biography”). Gould continued teaching at Harvard University, but was promoted to an associate professor in 1971 and then a full professor of geology in 1973 (“World Biography”). Along with being a professor, Gould was a curator at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (“World Biography”).
Stephen wrote his doctoral thesis on the variation and changes that occurred in West Indie land snails (“World Biography”). This study on evolution led him to believe that the snails adapted independent of their environment, which showed the nonselectionism of evolution (“Unofficial Archive of SJG”). Gould idolized Darwin and his progressive ideas on evolution (Linder,2004). He made connections in his studies to Darwin’s experiments. Although Gould was a fan of Charles Darwin, he had disagreed with his theory of evolution that suggested that evolution took many years to occur (Linder,2004). This disagreement led to the discovery of Stephen’s major contribution to science, which was his study in “Punctuated Equilibrium” (Linder,2004). Niles Eldredge, another scientist, first formulated this idea in 1972 (“Unofficial Archive of SJG”). The two scientists worked together to develop the theory of punctuated equilibrium in evolution (“Unofficial Archive of SJG”). The idea of this theory was that evolution occurred rapidly and speciation occurs immediately (Linder,2004). His argument was that species remain stable for long periods of time before a cataclysmic event creates a change (Linder, 2004).
Gould wrote many articles and books on the topic of evolution. His book, The Panda’s Thumb, explained how the structure of the panda’s wrist bone evolved very rapidly (Linder, 2004). This adaptation occurred in order for the panda’s to peel leaves...

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