Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Hopeful Monster

1. a dancing, hopping, or leaping movement.
2. an abrupt movement or transition.
3. Biology.
a. a sudden discontinuity in a line of descent.
b. a single mutation that drastically alters the phenotype.
4. Geology. intermittent, leaping movement of particles of sand or gravel, as from the force of wind or running water.
(From Latin saltare, meaning to leap. [])

Saltation is the idea that a new species can emerge in one big mutational jump, rather than as a result of many tiny evolutionary steps. The idea isn't popular these days, as scientists have mostly debunked the hypothetical divide between macro and micro mutation. In evolutionary biology, it's colloquially referred to as the theory of the "hopeful monster," a charming term coined by German geneticist (and saltationist) Richard Goldschmidt (1878-1958).

Did reptiles dance, and dream of birds?

1 comment:

noelle_in_team said...

I hold a grudge against Sin City because I had to pause it twice to run to the bathroom and vomit. This was during the first half of the movie, and I didn't brave the second half. You have to understand that the only gory movie I had seen before that was Evil Dead, and I think we can all agree that Bruce Campbell is no Elijah Wood.

As for the first definition of saltation, I do a lot of that in a ten minute dance break during the song "Gaston." Unfortunately, I do not mutate. It would be nice if I could mutate into someone that sings well.