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Establishing the existence of new species of Paramecium aurelia


The best summary of evolutionary literature on animals
Ernst Mayr Scientist
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This book for about 20 years was the book that was used by most people who gave an evolution course. It had the best… it was animal species, it didn't have anything on plants, but it certainly gave the best summary of the evolutionary literature as the… as it related to animals. And there were many things by which it differed from the 1942 book. For instance, I had barely mentioned in the earlier book that there are so-called sibling species, that is, natural populations that behave toward each other like good species even though there were hardly any differences, any morphological differences between them; while in the new ’63 volume I think it's almost a whole chapter devoted to these sibling species and they are very important, and more and more people realize. For instance, by studying the songs of crickets the number of species of North American crickets was doubled because species that were very similar but had entirely different songs were recognized to be different species. And as I said, about half of the North American species were discovered that way.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: 1942, 1963

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008