Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos

 

107-1518
Forks Forum gives extensive coverage of Forks and nearby High Schools {Clallam + Neah Bay] sports, student profiles, community activities. Jordon Peterson is an outstanding performer in track and cross country who has been invited to many tournaments. REMEMBERING Harvard PALEONTOLOGIST STEPHEN JAY GOULD - Sympathy to all friends of Harvard paleontologist Stephen Gould I was sorry to hear of the cancer death of Harvard's paleontologist and historian of science Stephen Gould at age sixty. My contacts with him were usually when he was hosting visiting lectures at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in their lecture hall at 22 Oxford St. in the Natural History Museums. One time I heard him speak at Harvard Hillel. Recently at Peninsula Junior College here in Port Angeles Washington, Biology Professor Edward Tisch showed his class a 1970s video of Gould and one of his sons, including their conversation with New York Yankees outfielder Joe Dimaggio. Among the distinguished visitors whose lectures Steve hosted I particularly remember Harry Whittington of Cambridge University, Great Britain, leading researcher on animals of the Burgess Shale of Cambrian Epoch in Yoho National Park, Canada, and Dolph Seilacher, recently at Yale, who explained how diverse organisms play distinct roles in building coral reefs. I knew Steve Gould well enough to feel personal grief at his passing, but I want to express my sympathy to those who worked closely with him over a number of years, particularly population geneticist Richard Lewontin, paleobotanist Andrew Knoll, paleosol expert Heinrich Holland, and atmosphere-climate experts including Michael McElroy and Paul Hoffman. I heard about Steven Gould from the late Dr. Charles Bradford, orthopedic surgeon and son of a dean of Harvard Medical School. The first time I saw Steve Gould personally was in a seminar in January 1987 on the earth's atmosphere - past present and future - Andrew Knoll, who studied the earliest life with Elso Barghoorn and is expert both on cyanobacteria and stromatolites and on geological processes that sometimes created and sometimes destroyed free oxygen and carbon dioxide - started the program with the early history of the earth and its atmosphere. Steve Gould led into the contemporary period and the existence of man, including the great catastrophe about sixty-six million years ago, in which a comet hit the earth leaving an iridium layer, and acting as a probable factor in the extinction of the dinosaurs. It seems that sometimes evolution has involved the survival of the lucky more than survival of the fit. Anyway, with the dinosaurs gone, first mammals and then apes and then humans found space to diversify. Then Michael McElroy, who made important discoveries convincing skeptics that chlorine-flourine compounds have caused the huge Antarctic ozone how, was the third speaker looking to the earth's atmosphere of the future. Gould's real specialty was fossil land snails, which often give clues to time scale of strata by changes in their shells. In places like Oahu, Hawaii, snail species manaage to be isolated from gene flow by geography and become very idiosyncratic. When Gould was in an expansive mood, he would talk on the history of science - but sometimes, if someone asked a question he didn't want to reply to in detail, he would say,"I specialize in fossil land snails." Gould often has succeeded in observing incipient species in the process of formation, a proof of the reality of evolutionary change. Morphology is often driven by "selection"- relative success in producing generations of healthy offspring adapted to their environments and lucky enough to escape disease, predation, and random catastrophes. The words of Robert Burns come to mind, "The best-laid plan o' mice and men gang aft a-gly." Steve grew up in New York, and for thirty years wrote a monthly article for "Natural History" magazine published by the American Museum of Natural History. The Title "This View of Life" was borrowed from Charles Darwin. Aristotle said he loved his mentor Plato, but loved truth more - Gould's relation to Darwin is analagous. Some of his articles were gathered in books such as "The Panda's Thumb" [actually a spur on the wrist helpful in feeding] and "The Flamingo's Smile" - the flamingo turns its head upside down while searching and digging for food, and upside down it seems to have a smiling expression. One of Steve Gould's most remarkable literary achievements - in company with Richard Lewontin was the astonishing essay "The Spandrels of San Marco", the long "Critique of Adaptationism" around 1982, when their colleague Edward O. Wilson published his pioneering big book "Sociobiology". Wilson studies small ants but often writes BIG BOOKS such as profusely illustrated Holldobler & Wilson "THE ANTS", which I was looking at this morning. Wilson and a student collaborator looked at the possibility that there was a genetic basis for cannibalism among ancient peoples of South America. In a statistical sense it is likely these people may at times undergo a deficiency of protein in their diet - recent anthropological research suggests that brain and liver may be even more important as sources of DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACIC and other Omega Three oils in the diet. An anthropologists' convention April 2002 in Buffalo reported by Ann Gibbons SCIENCE May 3, 2002 investigates how human ancestors got Omega three oils needed for expanded brain function - they found human ancestors in Africa fishing seventy to ninety thousand years ago, but animal brain and liver and sometimes cannibalism may have contributed also, as Wilson and his student speculated. They wondered if a gene causes cannibalism - one might respond that cannibalism, though important in many arthropods as a means of regulating population levels, is essentially a special case of carnivory - one needs genes to make a digestive tract and teeth that are fitted for meat, and then one might look for genetic or social REPRESSORS that prevent CANNIBALISM -- anyway Lewontin and Gould said "GENES CODE PROTEINS" - and they suggested that research money should not be devoted excessively to speculative concepts that were not readily testable. Knowledge of human and animal genomes has increased by orders of magnitude in the intervening twenty years, but Lewontin and Gould have remained concerned about human freedom from rigid gene control or rigid ideology, including abuses of genetics, such as occurred in the state of Virginia under the doctrine of Oliver Wendell Holmes's infamous opinion allowing sterilization of persons labelled "mentally retarded" [in Buck v. Bell]. Lewontin and Gould spoke of themselves as Marxists, but not in the sense in which most Americans understand the term - they were - Lewontin still is a defender of human dignity and mental plasticity under environmental influences. A change in a single gene may cause two ants to attack each other, but human behavior is multi-factored and complex. Gould was a strong champion of the work of ornithologist Charles Sibley, who used DNA hybridization to determine the relationships of more than one thousand of nine thousand living bird species. Sibley found that generation time affects the data, as of changes - mutations occur when the DNA - genetic material is undergoing MEIOSIS - cell division and recombination. Sibley's data indicated that humans and chimpanzees had a common ancestor about 7.7 million years ago, while gorillas diverged about one million years earlier. This result agreed with the chromosome banding data published by Yunis and Prakash 1982 but was attacked by Vincent Sarich, whose protein 'clocks' greatly underestimated the time - Sarich guessed three million years, but now bones of erect-walking human ancestors probably over six million years have been found under a lava flow in the Rift Valley of north-east Ethiopia. At the time of his death Stephen Gould had a major book prepared for publication on history of science in the area of evolution. A few years ago he published "Wonderful Life" on the Burgess Shale Cambrian fossils of the British Columbia Rockies, where a sudden turbidity current preserved the soft parts of athropodes like the huge predator Anomalocharis, and the first mollusks, echinoderms, and many other phyla, living and extinct. These fossils discovered around 1909 sat for decades in drawers at the Smithsonian Institution, until Harry Whittington in the 1960s and his Cambridge students Derek Briggs and Simon Conway Morris began to study them. Gould's book has wonderful illustrations of the Burgess fauna. Similar sites have turned up in recent years in Greenland and China. Dolph Seilacher and James Valentine and several Australian and Russian researchers are pushing back the beginnings of the metazoan multi-cell animal fossil record in time - the Ediacara or Vendian rocks of Australia are important, and many regions where there were political barriers to fossil search have opened up. Steve Gould's Harvard colleage Paul Hoffman has evidence that between 730 and 580 million years ago, there were at least four severe ice ages, when the earth's oceans froze all the way to the equator, except for oases around volcanoes and hot springs. These events greatly reduced photosynthesis, leading to very warm interglacials, which may have triggered punctuated evolutionary change, much as Gould and Eldredge suggested around 1972. Gould has done a great deal to develop public support of paleontology around the world. I have known a number of his students, who are pursuing careers in paleobiology and related fields - they will miss him, but he leaves paleobiology and life sciences much stronger than when he arrived on the scene. Let us hope Harvard continues to give strong support to life sciences, natural history, and paleontology. I myself do much paleobotany, and believe there will be much progress next few years combining molecular and fossil evidence, and in plants especially the abundant evidence of pollen and spores. - John Barrett Harvard 1957 law 1960 active at various times in Friends of Arnold Arboretum, Farlow Herbarium, Museum of Comparative Biology, Cambridge Entomological Club, New England Botanical Club, Boston Mycological Society.
Year: 2002

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