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Simpson, GeorgeGaylord

Simpson, GeorgeGaylord (1902–84)An American palaeontologist who supported the idea of ‘neo-Darwinian’ evolution, and initially fiercely opposed the theory of continental drift, basing his objections on his studies of fossil mammals, especially those of Madagascar. He proposed that the dispersion of species was caused by ‘sweepstake routes’. He was a leading authority on the palaeontology of South American mammals, discoverer of Hyracotherium (the ‘dawn horse’), and collaborated with Louis and Mary Leakey in their work on hominoid evolution. From 1936 he worked at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, eventually becoming chairman of its department of geology and palaeontology, and he was professor of vertebrate palaeontology first at Columbia University and later at Harvard. In 1970–82 he was a professor at the University of Arizona.

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