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Lynn Margulis Awarded Illustrious Darwin-Wallace Medal

Scientist and author Lynn Margulis (Luminous Fish: Tales of Science and Love; Mind, Life, and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists of Our Time; Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature) was recently honored by the Linnean Society of London with the Darwin-Wallace Medal for “major advances in evolutionary biology.”

Until 2008, the Darwin-Wallace Medal was awarded to only a select few, every 50 years, beginning 1908, the fiftieth anniversary of Charles Darwin and Russel Wallace’s reading of the joint paper “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection” July 1, 1858.

We here at Chelsea Grenn send Lynn our most enthusiastic congratulations on receiving this great honor. It’s no stretch to call it a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

From Professor Margulis’s bio:

Margulis’s theory of species evolution by symbiogenesis, put forth in Acquiring Genomes (co-authored with Dorion Sagan, 2002), describes how speciation does not occur by random mutation alone but rather by symbiotic détente. Behavioral, chemical, and other interactions often lead to integration among organisms, members of different taxa. In well-documented cases some mergers create new species. Intimacy, physical contact of strangers, becomes part of the engine of life’s evolution that accelerates the process of change. Margulis works in the laboratory and field with many other scientists and students to show how specific ancient partnerships, in a given order over a billion years, generated the cells of the species we see with our unaided eyes.The fossil record, in fact, does not show Darwin’s predicted gradual changes between closely related species but rather the “punctuated equilibrium” pattern described by Eldredge and Gould: a jump from one to a different species.

Here’s the full list of 2008 Silver Medal Winners (the Gold was awarded once only, in 1908):

Nick Barton
Mark Chase
Bryan Clarke
Joseph Felsenstein
Stephen Jay Gould (posthumous)
P. R. Grant & Rosemary Grant
James (Jim) Mallet
Lynn Margulis 
John Maynard‐Smith (posthumous)
Mohamed Noor
H. Allen Orr
Linda Partridge


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