Steven M. Stanley

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Steven M. Stanley (born 1941) is an American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist known for endorsing punctuated equilibrium from his research on the fossil record.


He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1968. He works at the at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 1972 Stanley he proposed the Predation Hypothesis to explain the evolution of novelties in the Cambrian explosion. He proposed that predation stimulated prey animals to evolve defenses such as shells, rapid swimming, and burrowing. According to Stanley these strategies also opened new avenues of evolution through functional shifts. Hard shells allowed for filter feeding, and deep burrowing allowed animals to gain new access to food resources. In 2006 Stanley was awarded the Mary Clark Thompson Medal by the National Academy of Sciences and in 2008 the William H. Twenhofel Medal by the Society for Sedimentary Geology.

Stanley has called for extended evolutionary synthesis based on research on punctuated equilibrium and species selection and summarized his views in his 1981 book The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species. He is usually quote mined by creationists.


  • Stanley, S. M. (1973). "An Ecological Theory for the Sudden Origin of Multicellular Life in the Late Precambrian." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 70 (May 1): 1486-1489.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1975). "A theory of evolution above the species level." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 72 (Feb 1): 646-650.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1978). "Chronospecies' longevities, the origin of genera, and the punctuational model of evolution." Paleobiology 4 (1): 26-40.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1979). Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1981). The New Evolutionary Timetable. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-05013-1
  • Stanley, S. M. (1985). "Rates of evolution." Paleobiology 11 (1): 13-26.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1987). Extinction. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1987). "The controversy over punctuational evolution." Geol. Soc. Amer. Abstr. with Progr. 19: 854.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1992). "The Empirical Case for the Punctuational Model of Evolution." In A. Somit and S. Peterson. The Dynamics of Evolution. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Stanley, S. M. (1998). Children of the Ice Age. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
  • Stanley, S. M. (2000). "The past climate change heats up." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 97 (Feb. 15): 1319.
  • Stanley, S. M. (2008). Earth System History. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
  • Raup, S. M. and S. M. Stanley (1971). Principles of Paleontology. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
  • Stanley, S. M. and Xiangning Yang (1987) "Approximate evolutionary stasis for bivalve morphology over millions of years." Paleobiology 13: 113-139.