Evolutionary Ideas: The Modern Synthesis


By the middle decades of the twentieth century a synthesis between Mendelian genetics and the Darwinian selection theory had emerged that attracted the support of the majority of evolutionary biologists. The genetical theory of natural selection was applied to field studies and palaeontology, giving rise to disagreements among biologists and historians over the nature and ultimate impact of the synthesis.

Keywords: Darwinism; evolutionary synthesis; natural selection; population genetics; speciation

Further Reading

Adams MB (ed.) (1994) The Evolution of Theodosius Dobzhansky. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Allen GE (1978) Thomas Hunt Morgan: The Man and his Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Bowler PJ (1989) Evolution: The History of an Idea. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Depew DJ and Weber BH (1995) Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gould SJ (1983) The hardening of the modern synthesis. In: Grene M (ed.) Dimensions of Darwinism, pp. 71–93. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gould SJ (1989) Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. London: Hutchinson.

Gould SJ and Eldredge N (1977) Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered. Paleobiology 3: 115–151.

Gould SJ and Lewontin R (1979) The spandrels of San Marco and the panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 205: 581–598.

Grene M (ed.) (1983) Dimensions of Darwinism: Themes and Counter Themes in Twentieth‐century Evolutionary Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hull DL (1988) Science as Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Growth and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mayr E (1976) Evolution and the Diversity of Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mayr E (1982) The Growth of Biological Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mayr E and Provine WB (eds) (1980) The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology. Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press.

Provine WB (1971) The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Provine WB (1986) Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smocovitis VB (1996) Unifying Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Waters KC and Van Helden A (eds) (1992) Julian Huxley: Biologist and Statesman of Science. Houston, TX: Rice University Press.

Wilson EO (1975) Sociobiology: the New Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Bowler, Peter J(Apr 2001) Evolutionary Ideas: The Modern Synthesis. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001694]