NEW YORK, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Darwin's theory of evolution isn't fully supported by geological history, and an earlier theory was, in fact, a more accurate one, a U.S. researcher writes.
New York University Geologist Michael Rampino, in an essay in the journal Historical Biology, says a more accurate theory of gradual evolution that says long periods of evolutionary stability are disrupted by catastrophic mass extinctions of life was put forth by Scottish horticulturalist Patrick Matthew in 1831, at least 10 years prior to Darwin's first essay on the topic.
"Matthew discovered and clearly stated the idea of natural selection, applied it to the origin of species, and placed it in the context of a geologic record marked by catastrophic mass extinctions followed by relatively rapid adaptations," Rampino says.
As Rampino notes, geological history is now commonly understood to be marked by long periods of stability punctuated by major, sometimes catastrophic ecological changes.
"Matthew's contribution was largely ignored at the time, and, with few exceptions," Rampino says, usually only gets "a footnote in modern discussions of the discovery of natural selection."
"His discovery was consigned to the dustbin of premature and unappreciated scientific ideas."