[TLDR] I dont understand the fault people had/have with Richard Goldscmidt's concept of systemic mutations [/TLDR]

As a preface, I am a undergrad biology student, so sorry if this is a "Stupid question".

How does Richard Goldschmidt's concept of systemic mutations, reject the classical gene concept, why were biologists so against it?

From what I understand he used the concept of systemic mutations and developmental macromutations in his lectures to explain how macromutations could cause speciation(macroevolution?). The results of the developmental macromutations, if I understand him correctly would be then the Hopeful Monsters?

And from what I have read on a timeline of his work, systemic mutations describe the "large rearrangments of the chromosome", with a new arrangement meaning a new phenotype?

How is that wrong though? Do chromosomes not have rearrangements via cross over events during meiosis or via transposable elements? Or is he referring to something else, since I understand at the time, meiosis and TE's were not understood well.

The source i was reading from was: (Richard Goldschmidt: hopeful monsters and other 'heresies' by Michael R. Dietrich) Available from http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dietrich/NRG2003.pdf


1 Answer 1


His notion of systemic mutations involved the postulation of massive chromosomal rearrangements (not mere recombination/crossing-over) as mediators of speciation in one-step. While whole genome duplications have been shown to induce speciation (see, for example, cryptic speciation in Hyla versicolor) they are not large scale rearrangements as he suggested. Additionally, while there is evidence for multiple large scale chromosomal arrangements at once in cancers (Chromothripsis) , there is no evidence of a similar process resulting in immediate reproductive isolation.


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