There was no precedent of higher education in the family, but his parents supported his academic efforts and also encouraged a strong interest in current events and public affairs.
As an undergraduate at Antioch University in Ohio, Gould was active in the Civil Rights Movement.
But his thoughts continually returned to the dinosaurs in the museum.
When he learned that there was a field of study called paleontology, and that an adult could have a career seeking the fossils of extinct animals, his course in life was set.
With only the slightest knowledge of what this career would be, he moved inexorably toward his goal.
In 1958, Stephen Jay Gould graduated from Jamaica High School in New York City, New York.
With punctuated equilibrium, a revision of Darwinian theory proposing that the creation of new species through evolutionary change occurs not at slow, constant rates over millions of years but rather in rapid bursts over periods as short as thousands of years, which are then followed by long periods of stability during which organisms undergo little further change.
Gould’s theory was opposed by many, including American biologist Edward O.
The editors have selected pieces on a wide range of subjects – from the ever-shrinking Hershey Bar, to his and Niles Eldredge’s theory of punctuated evolution and Freud’s adaptation of the (now abandoned) biological notion of recapitulation – which showcase Gould’s immense curiosity as well as his skill at explaining even the most obscure topics with clear and vivid language.
Autobiographical essays are followed by scientific ruminations on evolutionary theory and how it has been understood, misunderstood and misused, ever since Darwin put pen to paper.