George Gaylord Simpson published some 21 books and monographs, 79 notes, and 271 research articles from 1925 through 1971. This primary literature totals 371 titles and 12,656 pages; 4,451 pages (35%) are devoted to mammals, and 2,363 pages (19%) are devoted to evolution. Simpson published primarily on Mesozoic and Paleocene mammals, but he also contributed significantly to the study of Eocene and Pleistocene mammals as well. Early work was concentrated on North American faunas, but interest later shifted to South America. Simpson published some 224 titles and 5,785 pages of empirical work, much of it during the first 20 years of his career. He published 109 titles and 6,675 pages of theoretical work. Research collections and museum support were important throughout Simpson’s working life. The concentration of empirical research early in Simpson’s career, with later emphasis on theoretical questions, affirms that observation and experience are important in generating ideas of lasting value.
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Vertebrates, Phylogeny, and Philosophy
Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most important evolutionary biologists of the Twentieth Century, was born on June 16, 1902 and died on October 6, 1984. His contributions to science include not only a modern synthesis of evolutionary thought, but original research on anthropology, mammalogy, paleontology, general biology, and statistics. His prolific writings were intended for scientific and non—scientific communities alike. He helped and encouraged many who now work in the fields of paleontology and evolutionary biology. Contributors to this book dedicate their efforts as tribute to his memory.
Included authors are colleagues, former students, and friends of Dr. Simpson’s. They represent but a few of the people he would have included in these categories. The book is intended to suggest only a sampling of the diversity of George Gaylord Simpson's impact on present vertebrate paleontology, from its most senior to its very junior participants.
Ms. Flanagan’s letter of invitation entreated the following from potential authors: "In the spirit of Dr. Simpson’s own writings, we encourage imaginative contributions that would be just a little different from items expected in a regular scientific journal." The title of the volume (Vertebrates, Phylogeny, and Philosophy) reflects that request. Though individual articles deal almost exclusively with fossil mammals, emphases cross the spectrum of evolutionary biology, including systematic paleontology, considerations of adaptation, ontogeny, analyses of evolutionary tem— po and mode, biogeographic procedure, and paleogeography. Philip Gingerich’s contribution stresses the crucial importance of solid empirical research to the foundations upon which theoretical/philosophical writings should be based. Mesozoic and Cenozoic taxa are considered, and two articles discuss the modern union of molecular biology, genetics, and paleontology. Most articles benefited directly from the pioneering writings of George Simpson, yet the breadth of concerns of this volume covers only a small fraction of the interests exhibited in his lifetime of evolutionary research.
Kathryn Flanagan served as principal correspondent with authors and reviewers. Jason Lillegraven had principal responsibility for manuscript editing and considerations of production.
We take this opportunity to thank the thirty-two authors for their contributions. Similarly, more than fifty individuals served as unpaid reviewers, and we give our most sincere thanks for their generosity of time and effort. Also, we thank Linda E. Lillegraven for creating the cover design.