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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still and always a key reference, March 30, 2000
By 
John Anderson (Bar Harbor, ME USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Paperback)
This book belongs on every serious biologist's bookshelf -when it isn't on your desk, in your easy chair, in the clutches of your students, etc. Not as "easy a read" as Mayr's more "popular" books like the wonderful ONE LONG ARGUMENT, this was and is a definitive statement on key elements of the evolutionary synthesis. Get it & read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER IMPORTANT WORK FROM A RENOWNED EVOLUTIONARY THEORIST, November 12, 2009
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This review is from: Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Paperback)
Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was one of the leading evolutionary biologists, whose concept of speciation as a key to evolutionary development was critical for such persons as Stephen Jay Gould.

Mayr notes that "It is quite true ... that Darwin's book was misnamed, because it is a book on evolutionary changes in general and the factors that control them (selection, and so forth), but not a treatise on the origin of species."

His basic idea is that "No special evolutionary processes need to be postulated, even in groups where such missing links have not het been found and where the primitive roots of the various stems always seem to be missing. Aberrant types can be produced only in effective isolation and in rather small distributional areas. The number of individuals in such populations is small and the probability that they will leave a fossil record is very small."

He rejects Goldschmidt's "hopeful monster" theory (proposed in Goldschmidt's book The Material Basis of Evolution: Reissued (Silliman Milestones in Science)), yet notes that "The fact that an eminent contemporary geneticist (Goldschmidt) can come to conclusions which are diametrically opposed to those of most other geneticists is striking evidence of the extent of our ignorance." He says that theorists like Goldschmidt "fail to define what THEY consider a species."

He suggests that "geographic variation is of very common occurrence among animals and that it affects, so far as known, all taxonomic characters, that is, all the actual and potential differences between species." "geographic variation is not too slow a process to account for the present multitude and diversity of animal life."

He concludes by stating, "all the available evidence indicates that the origin of the higher categories is a process which is nothing but an extrapolation of speciation. All the processes and phenomena of macroevolution and of the origin of the higher categories can be traces back to intraspecific variation, even though the first steps of such processes are usually very minute."

This book is of great interest for anyone interested in the development of evolutionary theory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Never bettered text on speciation, September 27, 2013
By 
Jim Ross "JimboJim" (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist (Paperback)
I'm not a biologist. My graduate degree is in geology. However, I specialized in micropaleontology and my thesis adviser made this book required reading in her graduate level micropaleontology overview course. If this isn't required reading for ALL students studying paleontology, it should be. It's an eye-opener. Mayr clearly outlines the factors that bring about origin and separation of species. Very readable to anyone with any sort of science background and a must-own for anyone with an interest in natural sciences.
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Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist
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