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Happy Birthday to paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science, Stephen Jay Gould, born this day in 1941!

Gould’s most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. 

Gould was one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. He wrote monthly essays for Natural History magazine for more than 20 years, and his essays have also appeared in The New York Review of Books, Discover and Nature. One review of his publications between 1965 and 2000 noted 479 peer-reviewed papers, 22 books, 300 essays, and 101 “major” book reviews.