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By Stephen Jay Gould

"Provocative and delightfully discursive essays on usual historical past. . . . Gould is the Stan Musial of essay writing. He can paintings himself right into a corkscrew of principles and unbelievable allusions paragraph after paragraph after which, uncoiling, hit it with such energy that his enthusiasts understand they're experiencing the sport of essay writing at its best."--John Noble Wilford, New York instances e-book Review

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IROMIE WEERAMANTRY. COURTESY OF usual historical past. through the 19th century all resources that we have got stumbled on (eight references, together with such significant figures as Joseph Le Conte, Archibald Geikie, or even Marsh舗s sour enemy E. D. Cope) replica Marsh舗s favorite simile舒they all describe Eohippus as fox-sized. we're convinced that Marsh舗s unique description is the resource simply because so much references additionally repeat his assertion that Miohippus is the dimensions of a sheep. How, then, did fox terriers substitute their prey? the 1st decade of our century ushered in a effective Darwinian pageant between 3 possible choices and ended in the ultimate triumph of fox terriers. by way of 1910, 3 similes have been scuffling with for survival. Marsh舗s unique fox suffered drastically from festival, yet controlled to hold a proportion of the marketplace at approximately 25 percentage (five of twenty citations among 1900 and 1925 in our sample)舒a frequency that has been maintained ever given that (see accompanying figure). pageant got here from stiff assets, however舒both from the yank Museum of typical heritage in ny. First, in 1903, W. D. Matthew, vertebrate paleontologist on the Museum, released his well-known pamphlet The Evolution of the pony (it remained in print for 50 years, and used to be nonetheless being bought on the Museum store whilst i used to be a child). Matthew wrote: 舠The earliest identified ancestors of the pony have been small animals now not greater than the family cat. 舡 a number of secondary resources picked up Matthew舗s simile in this area century (also 5 of twenty references among 1900 and 1925), yet tom cats have in view that light (only one in every of fifteen references for the reason that 1975), and that i don't know why. moment, the three-way carnivorous pageant of vulpine, pussycat, and canines started in earnest while man舗s ally made his belated visual appeal in 1904 less than the sponsorship of Matthew舗s boss, American Museum president and eminent vertebrate paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn. keep in mind that no nineteenth-century resource (known to us) had recommended a dogs simile, so Osborn舗s past due access suffered a temporal handicap. yet Osborn was once as commanding (and enigmatic) a determine as American typical background has ever produced (see Essay 29)舒a strong patrician in technology and politics, imperious yet variety, prolific and pompous, crusader for usual historical past and for different factors of contrary benefit (Osborn wrote, for instance, a sparkling preface to the main influential tract of yankee clinical racism, The Passing of the nice Race, by means of his buddy Madison Grant). within the Century journal for November 1904, Osborn released a favored article, 舠The Evolution of the pony in the US. 舡 (Given Osborn舗s nearly obsessively prolific spate of courses, we'd now not be shocked if we've got neglected an prior quotation. ) His first assertion approximately Eohippus introduces the comparability that will later win the contest: We may perhaps think the earliest herds of horses within the reduce Eocene (Eohippus, or 舠dawn horse舡 degree) as akin to loads of small fox-terriers in size舰.

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