Ernst Mayr

(1905 - 2005)

The late ERNST MAYR was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Balzan Prize, and the Japan Prize.

Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. His work has contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the synthesis of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept. His theory of peripatric speciation has become widely accepted as one of the standard modes of speciation, and is the basis of the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Furthermore, his writings reflect, not only a technical expertise in biological subjects, but also a broad and penetrating understanding of the deeper philosophical issues involved.

Among his many books are The Growth of Biological Thought; One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought ; Population, Species, and Evolution; Systematics and the Origin of the Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist; This Is Biology; Toward a New Philosophy of Biology; Evolution and the Diversity of Life: Selected Essays, The Evolutionary Synthesis, and What Evolution Is (ScienceMasters Series). Also see On the Origin of Species a Facsimile of the First Edition By Charles Darwin, Ernst Mayr, Designer.

Mayr, born Kempten, Germany in 1904, began his studies of ornithology at the University of Berlin where, in June, 1926, at the age of 21, he received his Ph.D. In June, 2001, to honor the 75th anniversary of this event, the Humboldt University of Berlin awarded him a second (and honorary) Ph.D.

Ernst Mayr: EdgeVideo (7:30 min.)
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Further Reading on Edge:

"Ernst Mayr: What Evolution Is": Introduction by Jared Diamond

Beyond Edge:

The Ernst Mayr Library (including "Ernst Mayr: An Informal Chronology" Compiled by Robert Young)