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Abstract

I find a proper introduction of George Gaylord Simpson in the citation for the honorary degree of Doctor of Science which the University of Arizona awarded him in 1982.

“Simpson is not only a paleonologist rare amongst his colleagues, he has made himself master of all the disciplines involved in the synthetic theory of evolution and particularly of taxonomy which makes him a great biologist. He is not only a biologist but a man of science with the widest horizon and experience.”

There is not adequate space to even outline Simpson’s magnificent scientific achievements. He did within 50 years travel to every continent and every state, usually accompanied with his partner-wife, Anne Roe Simpson, who not only made significant discoveries of vertebrate fossils but read and critiqued his writing. Surely a heroic task, for Simpson authored some 800 books and articles.

An event destined to have great influence on the life of Simpson occurred in 183 1. In that year the 22 year old Charles Darwin enlisted on H.M.S. Beagle to participate in a voyage that took four years to encircle the globe. Early on that voyage a stop was made in lower South America which enabled Darwin to explore parts of Patagonia and bring back a significant collection of fossils. One century and one year later the youthful Simpson followed in Darwin’s Patagonian steps and beyond them, bringing back the most important collection of vertebrate fossils yet found there. “Attending Marvels” is the delightful and informative record of that trip and remains one of his most popular books.

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