Evolution Is ...

The New York Times
Published: June 25, 2007

"Everybody is interested in pigeons. The book would be reviewed in every journal in the kingdom and would soon be on every library table."
- An adviser to Darwin's publisher, explaining why Darwin should publish a book on pigeons instead of "The Origin of Species"

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

"Why should a rat run, a bat fly, a porpoise swim, and I type this essay with structures built of the same bones unless we all inherited them from a common ancestor?"
- Stephen Jay Gould

"At last gleams of light have come & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to the opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable."
- Charles Darwin

"Species evolve exactly as if they were adapting as best they could to a changing world, and not at all as if they were moving toward a set goal."
- George Gaylord Simpson

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish / In the Palaeozoic time, / And side by side on the ebbing tide / We sprawled through the ooze and slime
- Langdon Smith, From the poem "Evolution"

"Evolution ... is opportunistic, hence unpredictable."
- Ernst Mayr

"Evolution on a large scale unfolds, like much of human history, as a succession of dynasties."
- E.O. Wilson

"As an evolutionary biologist, I have learned over the years that most people do not want to see themselves as lumbering robots programmed to ensure the survival of their genes."
- John Maynard Smith

"It touches all our lives; for how can we be indifferent to the great questions of genealogy: where did we come from and what does it all mean? and then, of course, there are all those organisms: more than a million described species, from bacterium to blue whale, with one hell of a lot of beetles in between - each with its own beauty, and each with a story to tell."
- Stephen Jay Gould

"A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would rather be a man, a man of restless and versatile intellect, who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he had no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice."
- Thomas Henry Huxley, one of Darwin's staunchest supporters, in reply to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, known as Soapy Sam, when asked whether apes were in his lineage on his grandmother's or grandfather's side.