The “Species Concept” and the Beginnings of Paleobiology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the late 1940s, the discipline of paleontology took major steps towards becoming more fully integrated into the community of evolutionary biology. Key to this process was the development of quantitative ways of documenting and analyzing morphological variation in fossils, which allowed paleontologists to integrate paleontology into the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. Paleontologists, however, wrestled with accommodating fossil data to the populational understanding of species promoted by geneticists in the Synthesis. In so doing, these paleontologists posed a solution to the problem of incorporating “population thinking” into paleontology; introduced greater analytical and quantitative rigor into paleontology; and introduced new theoretical possibilities for interpreting the evolutionary significance of the fossil record, which greatly contributed to the further growth of evolutionary paleobiology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpecies and Speciation in the Fossil Record
EditorsWarren D Allmon, Margaret M Yacobucci
Place of PublicationChicago
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISBN (Print)9780226377445
StatePublished - 2016


  • Modern Synthesis
  • George Gaylord Simpson
  • species question


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