In an earlier
pages, we examined how the fossil record clearly invalidates
the hypotheses of the Darwinist theory. We saw that the different
living groups in the fossil record emerged suddenly, and stayed
fixed for millions of years without undergoing any changes.
This great discovery of paleontology shows that living species
exist with no evolutionary processes behind them.
This fact was ignored for many years by paleontologists,
who kept hoping that imaginary "intermediate forms" would
one day be found. In the 1970s, some paleontologists accepted
that this was an unfounded hope and that the "gaps" in the
fossil record had to be accepted as a reality. However, because
these paleontologists were unable to relinquish the theory
of evolution, they tried to explain this reality by modifying
the theory. And so was born the "punctuated equilibrium"
model of evolution, which differs from neo-Darwinism in a
number of respects.
This model began to be vigorously promoted at
the start of the 1970s by the paleontologists Stephen Jay
Gould of Harvard University and Niles Eldredge of the American
Museum of Natural History. They summarized the evidence presented
by the fossil record as revealing two basic characteristics:
2. Sudden appearance
In order to explain these two facts within the
theory of evolution, Gould and Eldredge proposed that living
species came about not through a series of small changes,
as Darwin had maintained, but by sudden, large ones.
This theory was actually a
modified form of the "Hopeful Monster" theory
put forward by the German paleontologist Otto Schindewolf
in the 1930s. Schindewolf suggested that living things evolved
not, as neo-Darwinism had proposed, gradually over time through
small mutations, but suddenly through giant ones. When giving
examples of his theory, Schindewolf claimed that the first
bird in history had emerged from a reptile egg by a huge mutation-in
other words, through a giant, coincidental change in genetic
structure.173 According to this theory,
some land animals might have suddenly turned into giant whales
through a comprehensive change that they underwent. This fantastic
theory of Schindewolf's was taken up and defended by the Berkeley
University geneticist Richard Goldschmidt. But the theory
was so inconsistent that it was quickly abandoned.
The factor that obliged Gould
and Eldredge to embrace this theory again was, as we have
already established, that the fossil record is at odds with
the Darwinistic notion of step by step evolution through minor
changes. The fact of stasis and sudden emergence in the record
was so empirically well supported that they had to resort
to a more refined version of the "hopeful monster" theory
again to explain the situation. Gould's famous article "Return
of the Hopeful Monster" was a statement of this obligatory
Gould and Eldredge did not just repeat Schindewolf's
fantastic theory, of course. In order to give the theory a
"scientific" appearance, they tried to develop some kind of
mechanism for these sudden evolutionary leaps. (The interesting
term, "punctuated equilibrium," they chose for this theory
is a sign of this struggle to give it a scientific veneer.)
In the years that followed, Gould and Eldredge's theory was
taken up and expanded by some other paleontologists. However,
the punctuated equilibrium theory of evolution was based on
even more contradictions and inconsistencies than the neo-Darwinist
theory of evolution.
Jay Gould, "Evolution's Erratic Pace," Natural History,
vol. 86, May 1977, p. 14.
173 Stephen M. Stanley, Macroevolution:
Pattern and Process, W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco,
1979, pp. 35, 159.
174 S. J. Gould, "Return of the Hopeful
Monster," The Panda's Thumb, W. W. Norton Co., New
York, 1980, pp. 186-193.