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George Gaylord Simpson (16 June 19026 October 1984) was an Americanmarker paleontologist. Simpson was perhaps the most influential paleontologist of the twentieth century, and a major participant in the modern evolutionary synthesis, contributing Tempo and mode in evolution (1944), The meaning of evolution (1949) and The major features of evolution (1953). He was an expert on extinct mammals and their intercontinental migrations. He anticipated such concepts as punctuated equilibrium (in Tempo and mode) and dispelled the myth that the evolution of the horse was a linear process culminating in the modern Equus caballus. He coined the word hypodigm in 1940, and published extensively on the taxonomy of fossil and extant mammals.

He was Professor of Zoology at Columbia University, and Curator of the Department of Geology and Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural Historymarker from 1945 to 1959. He was Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoologymarker at Harvard Universitymarker from 1959 to 1970, and a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizonamarker until his retirement in 1982.


He was awarded the Linnean Society of London's prestigious Darwin-Wallace Medal in 1958. He also received the Royal Society's Darwin Medal 'In recognition of his distinguished contributions to general evolutionary theory, based on a profound study of palaeontology, particularly of vertebrates,' in 1962.

At the University of Arizonamarker, Tucsonmarker, the Gould-Simpson Building was named for George Gaylord Simpson. Simpson was noted for his work in the field of paleogeography and continental evolution relationships.



  • Attending marvels (1931)
  • Mammals and land bridges (1940)
  • Tempo and mode in evolution (1944)
  • The meaning of evolution (1949)
  • Horses (1951)
  • Evolution and geography (1953)
  • The major features of evolution (1953)
  • Life: an introduction to biology (1957)
  • Principles of animal taxonomy (1961)
  • This view of life (1964)
  • The geography of evolution (1965)
  • Penguins (1976)
  • Concession to the improbable (1978) (an autobiography)
  • Splendid isolation (1980)
  • The Dechronization of Sam Magruder (posthumously published novella, 1996)


  1. George Gaylord Simpson, Types in Modern Taxonomy, published in American Journal of Science #238, 1940 p. 418.
  2. Gould-Simpson Building, Univ. of Arizona. [1]

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