|About the Book|
Catastrophism, Neocatastrophism and Evolution tells how prevailing views of patterns and processes in the evolution of life on Earth have changed in a significant fashion over the past few years.In 1959, the centenary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, the Modern Synthesis of neo-Darwinism which incorporated developments in genetics into traditional Darwinism, seemed completely secure. Together with the contemporary geological paradigm, the Modern Synthesis was widely seen as representing the triumph of a gradualistic-uniformitarian view of Earth history over the catastrophist alternative. Evolutionary change was slow (an essential feature of gradualism), imperceptible (except over long periods of time) and progressive (though not because of linear development, but as a result of competition between variant forms). Later, however, it became increasingly clear that the course of evolution had been much less even paced and much more erratic than previously realised, the fossil record revealing episodic rapid bursts and abrupt transitions which could no longer (as formerly) be dismissed as artifacts. Moreover, from 1980 onwards neocatastrophism made remarkable advances so that, today, impacts of asteroids and comets have to be regarded as perfectly plausible agents of evolutionary change, and evidence for such an extraterrestrial involvement at any particular time considered on its merits.