Were Darwin's extrapolations justified? Judging from the conclusions
of many of the scientists attending one of the most important conferences
in evolutionary biology in the past forty years, the answer is probably
"The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms
underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of
macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of
the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No.
... Evolution, according to the Modern Synthesis, moves at a stately pace,
with small changes accumulating over periods of many millions of years yielding
a long heritage of steadily advancing lineages as revealed in the fossil
record. However, the problem is that according to most paleontologists the
principle feature of individual species within the fossil record is stasis,
In a generous admission Francisco Ayala, a major figure in propounding the
Modern Synthesis in the United States, said "We would not have predicted
stasis from population genetics, but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists
say that small changes do not accumulate."
"Feathers are features unique to birds, and there
are no known intermediate structures between reptilian scales and feathers.
Notwithstanding speculations on the nature of the elongated scales found
on such forms as Longisquama ... as being featherlike structures, there
is simply no demonstrable evidence that they in fact are. They are very
interesting, highly modified and elongated reptilian scales, and are not
- Feduccia, Alan (1985)
"On Why Dinosaurs Lacked Feathers"
The Beginning of Birds
Eichstatt, West Germany: Jura Museum, p. 76
"The Modern Synthesis is a remarkable achievement.
However, starting in the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its adequacy
in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution,
but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to
turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution
looks at adaptations that concern only the survival of the fittest, not
the arrival of the fittest. As Goodwin (1995) points out, "the origin
of species -- Darwin's problem -- remains unsolved."
- Scott Gilbert, John Opitz, and Rudolf Raff (1996)
"Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology,"
Developmental Biology 173, Article No. 0032, 1996, p. 361
This theme is developed at much greater length, and with considerable
insight, in Rudy Raff's new book, The Shape of Life: Genes, Development,
and the Evolution of Animal Form, University of Chicago Press, 1996
(520 pages, $29.95 in paperback).
"The facts of microevolution do not suffice for an understanding
- Goldschmidt, Richard B. (1940)
The Material Basis of Evolution
New Haven Connecticut: Yale University Press, p. 8
"We have had enough of the Darwinian fallacy. It
is time that we cry: 'The emperor has not clothes.'"
- K. Hsu (1986)
"Darwin's Three Mistakes"
Geology, vol. 14, p. 534
(K. Hsu is a geologist at the Geological Institute at Zurich.)
Lynn Margulis says that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as "a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology."
- Michael Behe
Darwin's Black Box (1996), page 26
Reference given is to: Science Vol. 252, 19 April 1991, pp. 379-381
Which references: American Zoologist, 30:861-875 (1990)
"Micro-evolution involves mainly changes within potentially continuous
populations, and there is little doubt that its materials are those revealed
by genetic experimentation. Macro-evolution involves the rise and divergence
of discontinuous groups, and it is still debatable whether it differs in
kind or only in degree from microevolution. If the two proved to be basically
different, the innumerable studies of micro-evolution would become relatively
unimportant and would have minor value in the study of evolution as a whole."
- Simpson G.G. (1949)
Tempo and Mode in Evolution, p97
"[T]he origin of no innovation of large evolutionary significance
- R. Wesson (1991)
Beyond Natural Selection
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 45
"[L]arge evolutionary innovations are not well understood.
None has ever been observed, and we have no idea whether any may be in progress.
There is no good fossil record of any."
- R. Wesson (1991)
Beyond Natural Selection
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 206