strikingly different new
individual that could serve as the founding ancestor of a new type of organism.
As J. Maynard Smith (1983:276) pointed out, hopeful monsters, by contrasts, are
drastically altered phenotypes. They are possible, at least in theory, and it
should be possible to discover empirically how often they occur and how often (if
ever) they are selectively superior.
It entirely misrepresents Goldschmidt's theory to claim that
Goldschmidt "argued that speciation is a rapid event produced by large genetic
changes (systemic mutations) in small populations" (Gould and Colloway, 1980:394).
The whole concept of populations was alien to his thinking. According to him, a
new type is produced by a single systemic mutation producing a unique individual.
Gould (1982) is also wrong in claiming that Goldschmidt never had the view "that
new species arise all at once, fully formed, by a fortunate macromutation."
Actually, this is what Goldschmidt repeatedly claimed. For instance, he cited
with approval Schindewolf's suggestion that the first bird hatched out of a
reptilian egg, and he was even clearer on this point in a later paper (1952:91-92)
than in his 1940 book.
In refutation of Goldschmidt's claims I demonstrated (Mayr,
1942) that geographic variation in isolated populations could indeed account for
evolutionary innovations. Such populations have a very different evolutionary
potential than contiguously distributed, clinally varying populations in a
continental species. As I stated (Mayr, 1954), and have reiterated (Mayr, 1963
1982b), one can defend a moderate form of punctuationism, based on strictly
empirical evidence, without having to adopt Goldschmidt's theory of systemic
QUESTIONS ABOUT PUNCTUATIONISM
The theory of punctuationism, to repeat, consists of two basic
claims: that most or all evolutionary change occurs during speciation events, and
that most species usually enter a phase of total stasis after the end of the
speciation process. The two claims are to some extent two separate theories.
The controversy that followed the proposal of this theory
revealed that there are considerable conceptual and evidential difficulties in
either substantiating or refuting this theory. First, the nature of the fossil
record makes it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to obtain irrefutable
evidence either for stasis or for a very short time span speciation.