By David Sepkoski

ISBN-10: 0226748553

ISBN-13: 9780226748559

Rereading the Fossil checklist presents the first-ever old account of the beginning, upward push, and value of paleobiology, from the mid-nineteenth century to the past due 1980s. Drawing on a wealth of archival fabric, David Sepkoski indicates how the stream was once conceived and promoted by means of a small yet influential team of paleontologists and examines the highbrow, disciplinary, and political dynamics serious about the ascendency of paleobiology. by way of tracing the function of desktop expertise, huge databases, and quantitative analytical tools within the emergence of paleobiology, this ebook additionally deals perception into the transforming into prominence and centrality of data-driven ways in fresh science.

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Extra resources for Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline

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The product of this collaboration was a textbook titled Quantitative Zoology (1939), which was a primer in mathematical and statistical analysis for zoologists and paleontologists. In the preface, Simpson and Roe noted that while it is “proper” for zoologists to avoid relying on an a priori mathematical framework, the behaviors and characteristics of actual organisms nonetheless can be profitably translated into a symbolic language (Simpson and Roe 1939, vii). The central problem the authors hoped to correct was the fact that “whether from inertia, from ignorance, or from natural mistrust .

Theoretically, he was sympathetic to the idealist tradition of directional evolution and he supported a version of orthogenesis, but as Bowler notes, he also “made at least a pretense of conforming to a mechanistic language” in presenting his theory (Bowler 1996, 359). For example, in Paläobiologie und Stammesgeschichte Abel wrote that “we need assume neither a supernatural principle of perfection, nor a principle of progression, nor a vital principle,” but that nonetheless “the phenomenon of orthogenesis, which has often been disputed but now can no longer be denied, is transmitted by the mechanical law of inertia into the organic world” (Abel 1980, 399).

While presidents of the society—having been elected by the general membership for extraordinary contributions to the field—may not accurately represent the attitudes of rank-and-fi le paleontologists, their addresses do suggest that paleontology was hardly theoretically moribund before 1950. In 1914 Osborn presented a short address comparing “vertical changes in morphology with comparable changes over the geographic range of a species” (Schopf 1980). ” (Osborn 1914, 411) In essence, Osborn proposed that time and space are equally important axes in plotting morphological evolution—or, as he put it, “To institute a true comparison between a geographic series and a geologic series precisely the same methods of observation should be employed” (Osborn, 1914, 415).

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Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline by David Sepkoski


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