Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory

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Richard Goldschmidt

The evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould described Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory of evolution as a "postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages."[1] The theory was developed by the evolutionist Richard Goldschmidt, an American evolutionist who was originally from Germany.[2] One of the more well known postulates of Richard Goldschmidt was that a reptile laid an egg that a bird hatched out of.[3][2]

The prominent geneticist and evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote concerning the Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory:

"... systemic mutations ... have never been observed. It is possible to imagine a mutation so drastic that its product becomes a monster hurling itself beyond the confines of a species, genus, family or class...The assumption that such a product may, however rarely, walk the earth, overtaxes one's credulity....".[3]

Dobzhansky also wrote: ...the simplicity of Goldschmidt's theory is that of a belief in miracles.[3]

Goldschmidt's evolutionary thinking influenced Stephen Jay Gould who was one of the co-founders of the punctuated equilibrium school of evolutionary thought. In a 1977 in a paper entitled, ‘The Return of the Hopeful Monsters' Gould wrote that when he studied evolutionary biology in graduate school that "official rebuke and derision focused upon Richard Goldschmidt". Nevertheless, Gould also wrote:

I do, however, predict that during this decade Goldschmidt will be largely vindicated in the world of evolutionary biology.....As a Darwinian, I wish to defend Goldschmidt's postulate that macroevolution is not simply microevolution extrapolated, and that major structural transitions can occur rapidly without a smooth series of intermediate stages....In my own, strongly biased opinion, the problem of reconciling evident discontinuity in macroevolution with Darwinism is largely solved by the observation that small changes early in embryology accumulate through growth to yield profound differences among adults.[1]

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