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Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould 2015, portrait (unknown date).jpg
Born September 10, 1941
Died May 20, 2002(2002-05-20) (aged 60)
Manhattan, New York City
Nationality American
Alma mater Antioch College, Columbia University
Known for Punctuated equilibrium
Awards Linnean Society of London's Darwin-Wallace Medal (2008)
Paleontological Society Medal (2002)
Scientific career
Fields Paleontology, Evolutionary biology, History of Science
Institutions Harvard University,
American Museum of Natural History,
New York University
SJG Signature.png

Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, taxonomist, and historian of science.

He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation.

Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the latter years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University near his home in SoHo.

Gould's greatest contribution to science was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against the idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.

Most of Gould's empirical research was based on the snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. He also contributed to evolutionary developmental biology, and has received wide praise for his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In evolutionary theory he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology. He campaigned against creationism.

Many of Gould's Natural History essays were reprinted in collected volumes.

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