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Summary Article: Gould, Stephen Jay (1941-2002)
from The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Place: United States of America

Subject: biography, biology

US palaeontologist and writer who taught and researches in geology, evolutionary biology, and the history of science.

Gould was born in New York City on 10 September 1941 and graduated in 1963 from Antioch College in Ohio and then took a PhD at Columbia University in 1967. In that year he joined the staff at Harvard University and became professor of geology there in 1973 and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in 1981. He also held a concurrent post in the department of the history of science.

Gould wrote extensively on several aspects of evolutionary science, in both professional and popular books. His early research interests were focused on the evolutionary development and speciation of the land snail, and initiated his wider studies of animal form and function and the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. His book Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977) provided a detailed scholarly analysis of his work on the developmental process of recapitulation. In Wonderful Life (1989), he drew attention to the diversity of the fossil finds in the Burgess Shale Site in Yoho National Park, Canada, which he interpreted as evidence of parallel early evolutionary trends extinguished by chance rather than natural selection. Collections of essays published in, for example, Ever Since Darwin (1977), Hen's Teeth and Horses' Toes (1983), Life's Grandeur (1996), and The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002) have all achieved critical acclaim and large readerships.

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