Ernst Mayr quotes:

  • As a consequence, geneticists described evolution simply as a change in gene frequencies in populations, totally ignoring the fact that evolution consists of the two simultaneous but quite separate phenomena of adaptation and diversification.

  • Evolution thus is merely contingent on certain processes articulated by Darwin: variation and selection.

  • Life is simply the reification of the process of living.

  • Indeed, I was unable to find any evidence whatsoever of the occurrence of a drastic evolutionary acceleration and genetic reconstruction in widespread, populous species.

  • Living in an entirely different physical as well as biotic environment, such a population would have unique opportunities to enter new niches and to select novel adaptive pathways.

  • Every politician, clergyman, educator, or physician, in short, anyone dealing with human individuals, is bound to make grave mistakes if he ignores these two great truths of population zoology: (1) no two individuals are alike, and (2) both environment and genetic endowment make a contribution to nearly every trait.

  • anyone who writes about "Darwin's theory of evolutionin the singular, without segregating the theories of gradual evolution, common descent, speciation, and the mechanism of natural selection, will be quite unable to discuss the subject competently.

  • New gene pools are generated in every generation, and evolution takes place because the successful individuals produced by these gene pools give rise to the next generation.

  • The major novelty of my theory was its claim that the most rapid evolutionary change does not occur in widespread, populous species, as claimed by Most geneticists, but in small founder populations.

  • In those early years in New York when I was a stranger in a big city, it was the companionship and later friendship which I was offered in the Linnean Society that was the most important thing in my life.

  • I had found again and again that the most aberrant population of a species - often having reached species rank, and occasionally classified even as a separate genus - occurred at a peripheral location, indeed usually at the most isolated peripheral location.

  • On Earth, among millions of lineages or organisms and perhaps 50 billion speciation events, only one led to high intelligence ; this makes me believe its utter improbablity.

  • Definitions are temporary verbalizations of concepts, and concepts- particularly difficult concepts- are usually revised repeatedly as our knowledge and understanding grows.

  • All I claimed was that when a drastic change occurs, it occurs in a relatively small and isolated population.

  • Biology can be divided into the study of proximate causes, the study of the physiological sciences (broadly conceived), and into the study of ultimate (evolutionary) causes, the subject of natural history.

  • To take an unequivocal stand, it seems to me, is of greater heuristic value and far more likely to stimulate constructive criticism than to evade the issue.

  • Evolution, thus, is merely contingent on certain processes articulated by Darwin: variation and selection. No longer is a fixed object transformed, as in transformational evolution, but an entirely new start is, so to speak, made in every generation.

  • The most consequential change in man's view of the world, of living nature and of himself came with the introduction, over a period of some 100 years beginning only in the 18th century, of the idea of change itself, of change over periods of time: in a word, of evolution.

  • According to the concept of transformational evolution, first clearly articulated by Lamarck, evolution consists of the gradual transformation of organisms from one condition of existence to another.

  • I have the honesty to say I'm an Atheist. There is nothing that supports the idea of a personal God.

  • In neither his definition nor the examples illustrating what memes are does Dawkins mention anything that would distinguish memes from concepts.

  • Most of them are doomed to rapid extinction, but a few may make evolutionary inventions, such as physiological, ecological, or behavioral innovations that give these species improved competitive potential.

  • The history of science knows scores of instances where an investigator was in the possession of all the important facts for a new theory but simply failed to ask the right questions.

  • most scientific problems are far better understood by studying their history than their logic.

  • Our understanding of the world is achieved more effectively by conceptual improvements than by discovery of new facts

  • On the other hand, famous evolutionists such as Dobzhansky were firm believers in a personal God. He would work as a scientist all week and then on Sunday get down on his knees and pray to God. Frankly I've never been able to understand it because you would need two totally different compartments in your brain, one that deals with religion and the other with everything else.

  • All interpretations made by a scientist are hypotheses, and all hypotheses are tentative. They must forever be tested and they must be revised if found to be unsatisfactory. Hence, a change of mind in a scientist, and particularly in a great scientist, is not only not a sign of weakness but rather evidence for continuing attention to the respective problem and an ability to test the hypothesis again and again.

  • Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism, confirmed by the work of population genetics, and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record.

  • A species is a reproductive community of populations reproductively isolated from others that occupies a specific niche in nature.

  • A new species develops if a population which has become geographically isolated from its parental species acquires during this period of isolation characters which promote or guarantee reproductive isolation when the external barriers break down.

  • Isolating mechanisms are biological properties of individuals that prevent the interbreeding of populations that are actually or potentially sympatric.

  • It is curious how often erroneous theories have had a beneficial effect for particular branches of science.

  • There is more to biology than rats, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis, and E. coli.

  • Mathematics is as little a science as grammar is a language.

  • The issue, as correctly emphasized by Carl Sagan, is the probability of the evolution of high intelligence and an electronic civilization on an inhabited world. Once we have life (and almost surely it will be very different from life on Earth), what is the probability of its developing a lineage with high intelligence? On Earth, among millions of lineages of organisms and perhaps 50 billion speciation events, only one led to high intelligence; this makes me believe in its utter improbability.

  • Scientific progress consists in the development of new concepts.

  • Evolution as such is no longer a theory for a modern author. It is as much a fact as that the earth revolves around the sun.

  • Two forms or species are sympatric, if they occur together, that is if their areas of distribution overlap or coincide. Two forms (or species) are allapatric, if they do not occur together, that is if they exclude each other geographically. The term allopatric is primarily useful in denoting geographic representatives.

  • A species consists of a group of populations which replace each other geographically or ecologically and of which the neighboring ones integrate or hybridise wherever they are in contact or which are potentially capable of doing so (with one or more of the populations) in those cases where contact is prevented by geographical or ecological barriers.

  • I feel that one species, mankind, doesn't have the right to exterminate

  • There are a number of attributes of species and populations that are not of any particular selective advantage to any single individual in a population but that are of great advantage to the population as a whole.

  • It seems to me that for Darwin the pulsing of evolutionary rates was a strictly vertical phenomenon.

  • Evolution ... is opportunistic, hence unpredictable.

  • The reduced variability of small populations is not always due to accidental gene loss, but sometimes to the fact that the entire population was started by a single pair or by a single fertilized female. These 'founders' of the population carried with them only a very small proportion of the variability of the parent population. This 'founder' principle sometimes explains even the uniformity of rather large populations, particularly if they are well isolated and near the borders of the range of the species.

  • Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.