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7 Jun 1999

Evaluating Evolution

Today is the birthday of Otto Schindewolf, a German paleontologist born in 1896 who, after examining the fossil record, raised fundamental questions about the theory of evolution.

After studying coral and cephalopod fossils from rock layers spanning millennia, Schindewolf concluded that more recent groups of organisms could not have arisen from an accumulation of small changes in their ancestors. Instead, he believed genetic changes must have triggered large, sudden transformations in embryos that persisted in later generations.

Although Schindewolf's ideas are rejected today by most scientists, they drew attention to important problems in evolutionary theory.

[Source: Britannica Online]

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© 1997 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.