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Macroevolution: Pattern and Process addresses, from a palaeobiologist's perspective, the question of whether punctuated equilibria – the view, popularized by Stephen Jay Gould among others, that species remain evolutionarily static for long periods of time, with substantial genetic changes and the development of new adaptive strategies occurring only during speciation – or gradualism – the view that large-scale changes result from continual and successive small-scale changes – offers the best account of the history of life. Stanley argues that only `quantum speciation' (speciation that is rapid and radically divergent) can explain the story of life revealed in the fossil record; macroevolution, he contends, cannot be attributed to microevolutionary forces such as mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection. Instead he posits a series of processes, including species selection, phylectic drift, and directed speciation, to account for large-scale patterns.
The hardback edition of Macroevolution: Pattern and Process was first published in 1979.
Steven M. Stanley is professor of paleobiology at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of numerous books, including 'Extinction' and 'Children of the Ice Age: How a Global Catastrophe Allowed Humans to Evolve'.
"Stanley offers an imaginative treatment of almost every issue in macroevolution; by drawing on a wealth of paleontological and neontological information and on the mechanistic theory of evolution, he achieves a clear, informative, stimulating synthesis. This is perhaps the most important treatment of macroevolution in almost thirty years, and revivifies a subject too long dormant"
– Douglas J. Futuyama, American Scientist
"Not only is a wealth of evidence presented to support the model of punctuated equilibria, but Stanley's stream of refreshing insights into classic topics of evolution, such as living fossils, mass extinctions and adaptive radiations add further weight to the validity of the general model."
– Simon Conway Morris, Geological Magazine