Reading Questions from Gould, Chapters 12 and 13

These are items that will be possible source material for the next quiz and also the final exam.

Chapter 12

Please go through and number all of the pages in the reading so that later we can refer to them readily in class, beginning with page 135 for Chapter 12.

  1. Why did Darwin not like the term “evolution?”
  2. What is meant by the term “nonprogressivism?”
  3. Explain why wooly mammoths evolved from earlier not-so-wolly elephants, according to Gould’s “simplistic caricature”. In what context (and only context) can the wooly mammoth be viewed as superior to its predecessor?
  4. Must local adaptation lead only to greater complexity?
  5. What is the connection between the sequence of change of local environments and the evolutionary sequence of organisms? Integrate the concepts of randomness and progress in your answer.
  6. What was it about Darwin’s thinking that made it difficult for his Western compatriots (Victorian Britain) to accept?
  7. How does Gould describe the way that progress is defined? (end of chapter 12)

Chapter 13

  1. Gould writes about an error of portraying a complete system of variation by a single “thing” or entity construed as either the average or the best example within the system, and then mentions how the disappearance of 400 hitting in baseball has been construed as a marker for the decline in hitting in baseball. He argues that its disappearance actually represents improvement in general play, as teams and playing overall became more competitive. Just keep this in mind as you read the chapter.
  2. Movement in one direction (page 149, which begins with the word “through”) may be a product of entirely random movement. Summarize in several sentences his basic argument toward this end using the “drunkards walk.”
  3. Explain the research significance of the three largely independent acts of planktonic forams, as delineated by two mass extinctions. In other words, what do the major extinctions provide in the way of independent repetitions?
  4. Summarize Cope’s Rule, and what two measures are used to illustrate it (Figure 22).
  5. Traditional interpretations for Cope’s Rule say what about the evolutionary advantages on larger bodies?
  6. What is meant by the phrase “selective advantages” of larger size, following Hallam, p. 155?
  7. List four hypothetical advantages of larger size, following Hallam.
  8. Why does Gould fuss so much over the use of the term “presumably?” (and then apply this twice to Figure 22). Write out the statement that you think this most closely relates to from the handout labeled “Science”.
  9. What changes in Figures 23 and 24? What happens with size to the smallest forams through time?
  10. What forms the so-called “true left wall” for size in the case of forams? Explain. Are there forams that are smaller?
  11. Of the measures of central tendency known as mean, median, and mode, which two are affected most by extremely large values? Which one the most?
  12. Which of the three does Gould use for the highly skewed distributions of forams? Why?
  13. What tendency in size does Gould find through time, using this measure?
  14. Describe the composition of the data set that Gould uses for his second, clinching piece of evidence.
  15. The Arnold, Kelly, and Parker study saw what in terms of the size of the largest species, and mean value? So how can they say that there is no strong indication of size-dependent longevity? Explain. (see and incorporate Figure 26 too)
  16. If you missed it above, what are the three factors on page 162 that explain this seeming paradox.
  17. In Gould’s view, then, for the data illustrated, do things move somewhere? Explain.
  18. Summarize Stanley’s Rule in a well worded sentence.
  19. Explain how/why smaller species are better survivors.