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Macroevolution:  Diversity, Disparity, Contingency

Macroevolution: Diversity, Disparity, Contingency
Elisabeth S. Vrba & Niles Eldredge, eds.
Lawrence, KS : The Paleontological Society, 2005
QH371.5 .M33 2005

Steve Gould died in May, 2002. Since his death the world of paleobiology, indeed, the world of evolutionary biology in general, has just not been the same as it had been for the previous three and half decades of his active professional life.

Steve was as known for his takes on the most general of evolutionary concepts as he was for his myriad more detailed and content-driven analyses of fossil snails, historical texts, and specific theoretical work. He argued, famously, for example, for the notion of contingency in evolution - where perturbations in the system play as strong a role as the deterministic elements (like natural selection - itself only statistically deterministic) in shaping the history of life. But at the same time he was thoroughly immersed in the details of many distinct areas of evolutionary biology and paleobiology.

The 14 papers assembled here to honor the life and work of Stephen Jay Gould reflect very well the depth and breadth of Steve's interests. He wouldn't have agreed with absolutely every word (no one could - especially not the argumentative Dr. Gould). But he would have been pleased to see in this selection an embodiment of his Catholic tastes - from genetics and developmental biology to turnovers and mass extinctions, from the Burgess Shale to an interdisciplinary examination of the causes of stasis, and so on.

He himself of course would have wished to have been a contributor to a similar volume, conceived for some other reason. This collection instead, stands as an homage to, and memento of, a bold and far-ranging thinker who did much to bring paleobiology closer to the rest of evolutionary biology. He continues to be missed.

Taken from preface.