The Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archive

Abstract
tephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History , has become something of a watershed for those who study contingency and complexity, especially applied to organisms, societies, and history, and discussions of it can be found in many works. Walter Fontana and Leo Buss, for example, ask in the title of their chapter "What Would Be Conserved If 'The Tape Were Played Twice'?" This is a direct reference to Gould's suggestion in Wonderful Life that if the tape of life were rewound to the time of the organisms found in the Canadian outcrop known as the Burgess Shale, dated to about 530 million years ago, and replayed with a few contingencies tweaked here and there, humans would most likely never have evolved.
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