Ernst Mayr pens a recent article and a republished interview from 2000 celebrates his 100th birthday. It provides some insight into the influences surrounding the directions of intellectual thought over the theory of evolution, and might have you reconsidering your fondness for a particular train of thought!
"As a student in Germany in the 1920s, I belonged to a German school of evolutionary taxonomists that was unrepresented in the United States. Our tradition placed great stress on geographic variation within species, and particularly on the importance of geographic isolation and its role in leading to the origin of new species. It accepted a Lamarckian inheritance of newly acquired characters but simultaneously accepted natural selection as facilitating gradual evolution. We decisively rejected any saltational origin of new species, as had been postulated by DeVries."
"Fortunately, there was one evolutionist who had the background to be able to resolve the conflict between the geneticists and the naturalists. It was Theodosius Dobzhansky.* He had grown up in Russia as a naturalist and beetle taxonomist, but, in 1927, he joined Morgan's laboratory in America where he became thoroughly familiar with population genetics. He was ideally suited to show that the findings of the population geneticists and those of the European naturalists were fully compatible and that a synthesis of the theories of the two groups would provide a modern Darwinian paradigm, subsequently referred to as the "Evolutionary Synthesis.""
Read the article at Science, 305(5680): 46-47 (2 July 2004).
See also Michael Shermer and Frank J. Sulloway article in 2000, "The Grand Old Man of Evolution - An Interview with Evolutionary Biologist Ernst Mayr." Skeptic Magazine, Vol. 8 No. 1, e-reprinted as "Happy 100th Birthday Ernst Mayr!" in E-Skeptic #26 for 5 July 2004.
The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr. The preeminent biologist, who just turned 100, reflects on his prolific career and the history, philosophy and future of his field. Scientific American, 6th July 2004. Thanks Cheng Puay!.
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