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Re: The Drunken Sailor's Stumble (was Re: March of "progress")
Ken Kinman wrote:
I'm not going to argue with you about Gould's ideas. He's a bright
scientist, but some of his ideas are too simplistic in my view (Simon
Conway-Morris rightly criticizes some of these; see Crucible of Creation).
For once Ken, we're in agreement. :-) I find Gould's idea of drift being
the major theme of evolution a little troubling. In fact, Gould's own
discussion on the evolution horses in the book (which correctly rebuts the
view that equid evolution was *not* governed by forward progress) tends to
undermine his assertion that diversity is not due to adaptive advantage.
"Full House" is an interesting read, but I highly recommend "Crucible of
The most troublesome is that the so-called Cambrian "explosion" was
supposedly a phyletic explosion of body-plans, when it is more
regarded as an explosion of hard parts scattered here and there on an
already well-diversified Metazoan tree.
I respectfully disagree: I think the Cambrian explosion was real, not an
artifact of preservation. But Gould (in "Wonderful Life") tends to
overstate the diversity of Cambrian forms; some "unique" forms are now
believed to be members of hitherto known forms (e.g. _Hallucogenia_ is
likely to be a spine-backed onychophoran, not a "phylum" unto itself.)
Also, Gould's notion that certain Cambrian lineages survived while others
didn't was due to chance (Dumb Luck) is a little difficult to swallow, in my
very humble opinion.
Timothy J. Williams
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014
Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax: 515 294 3163
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