Niles Eldredge has been a paleontologist on the curatorial staff of the American Museum of Natural History since 1969. His specialty is the evolution of trilobites—a group of extinct arthropods that lived between 535 and 245 million years ago.
Eldredge’s main professional passion is evolution. Throughout his career, he has used repeated patterns in the history of life to refine ideas on how the evolutionary process actually works. The theory of “punctuated equilibria,” developed with Stephen Jay Gould in 1972, was an early milestone. Eldredge went on to develop a hierarchical vision of evolutionary and ecological systems, and in his book The Pattern of Evolution (1999) he unfolds a comprehensive theory (the “sloshing bucket”) that specifies in detail how environmental change governs the evolutionary process.
Concerned with the rapid destruction of many of the world's habitats and species, Eldredge was Curator-in-Chief of the American Museum’s Hall of Biodiversity (May, 1998), and has written several books on the subject—most recently (1998) Life in the Balance. He has also combated the creationist movement through lectures, articles and books—including The Triumph of Evolution...And The Failure of Creationism (2000).
An amateur jazz trumpeter and avid collector of 19th century cornets, Eldredge has turned his evolutionary approach to cornet history—and to the comparison of patterns and processes of material cultural and biological evolution. A critic of gene-centered theories of evolution, Eldredge’s Why We Do It (2004) presents an alternative account to the gene-based notions of “evolutionary psychology” to explain why human beings behave as they do.
Eldredge is the Curator responsible for the content of the major exhibition Darwin, which opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on November 19, 2005. The exhibition travels to Boston, Toronto and Chicago before going to the Natural History Museum in London in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth in 2009. His book Darwin. Discovering the Tree of Life (2005) accompanies the exhibition.
He lives with his wife and 400 cornets in Ridgewood, New Jersey—but repairs to the Adirondack Mountains to hike, think and write as often as possible.
Niles Eldredge: Curriculum Vitae
Curator, Division of Paleontology
DATE OF BIRTH: August 25, l943
MARITAL STATUS: Married, two children
EDUCATION: A.B., Columbia College, New York, June, 1965 (Summa Cum Laude); Ph.D. (Geology), Columbia University, October 1969
EMPLOYMENT: Assistant Curator, Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, The American Museum of Natural History, 1969-1974; Associate Curator, Department of Invertebrates, 1974-1979; Curator, l979-; Chairman, 1984-1991; Adjunct Professor of Biology, City University of New York, 1972-; Adjunct Assistant (1969-1974) and Associate (1974-1981) Professor, Department of Geology, Columbia University
AFFILIATIONS: Trustee, Biodiversity Foundation for Africa; Member: Paleontological Society, Palaeontological Association, Society for the Study of Evolution, Society of Systematic Zoology, AAAS.
SOCIETY OFFICES: Coeditor, Systematic Zoology, 1973-1976; Councilor, Paleontological Society, 1977-1979
HONORS: Schuchert Award, Paleontological Society, 1979; Lappe Award, The Hastings Center, 1997
Books by Niles Eldredge
Eldredge, N. and J. Cracraft. 1980. Phylogenetic Patterns and the Evolutionary Process. Method and Theory in Comparative Biology. Columbia University Press, New York, 349 p. Japanese edition, Soju Shobo, 1990.
Eldredge, N. 1982. The Monkey Business. A Scientist Looks at Creationism. Pocket Books, New York. 157 p. Japanese edition, 1992.
Eldredge, N. and I. Tattersall. 1982. The Myths of Human Evolution.> Columbia University Press, New York. 197 p. Japanese edition arranged through Columbia U. Press.; Spanish edition 1986: Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico; Portuguese ed.: 1984, Zahar Editores, Rio de Janeiro; Italian ed., 1984: Boringheri.
Eldredge, N. and S. M. Stanley (eds.). 1984. Living Fossils. Springer Verlag, New York.
Eldredge, N. 1985. Time Frames. Simon and Schuster, New York. 240 pp. Great Britain: Heilman; Princeton University reprint edition. Italian edition, 1991, hopefulmonster editore.
Eldredge, N. 1985. Unfinished Synthesis. Biological Hierarchies and Modern Evolutionary Thought. Oxford University Press, New York. 237 pp.
Eldredge, N. 1987. Life Pulse. Episodes in the History of Life. Facts on File, New York. 246 pp. Pelican edition (Great Britain)
Eldredge, N. (ed.). 1987. Natural History Reader on Evolution. Columbia University Press, N.Y.
Eldredge, N. 1989. <Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches and Adaptive Peaks. McGraw-Hill, New York. Japanese edition: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., Japan, Ltd.
Eldredge, N., D. Eldredge and G. Eldredge. 1989. The Fossil Factory. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading, Mass.
Eldredge, N. 1991. The Miner's Canary. Extinctions Past and Present. Prentice-Hall Books, New York; English edition: Virgin Publishing, Ltd.; Korean edition: Moeum Publishers; Italian edition: Sperling and Kupfer. German Edition: Spektrum; U.S. paperback edition: Princeton University Press.
Eldredge, N. 1991. Fossils. The Evolution and Extinction of Species. Photographs by Murray Alcosser. Abrams, New York; Australian edition: Houghton Mifflin; English edition: Aurum Press; German edition: Belser Verlag.
Eldredge, N. (ed.). 1992. Systematics, Ecology and the Biodiversity Crisis. Columbia University Press, New York.
Eldredge, N. and M. Grene. 1992. Interactions. The Biological Context of Social Systems. Columbia University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Eldredge, N. 1995. Reinventing Darwin. The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory. John Wiley and Sons, New York; English edition: Orion; Italian edition: Einaudi Editore.
Eldredge, N. 1995. Dominion.Henry Holt and Co; paperback edition, University of California Press, 1997.
Eldredge, N. 1998. Life in the Balance. Humanity and the Biodiversity Crisis. Princeton University Press. Portugal: Dinalivre; China/Taiwan: International Publishing Co.; Poland: Proscynski; Japan: Seidosha; Spain: TusQuets; Italy: Guilo Einaudi Editore.
Eldredge, N. 1999. The Pattern of Evolution. W. H. Freeman and Co., N.Y.
Eldredge, N. 2000. The Triumph of Evolution .And the Failure of Creationism. W.H. Freeman and Co., N.Y.
Eldredge, N (ed.). 2002. Life on Earth. An Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution.ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California.
Eldredge, N. 2004. Why We Do It Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene. W.W. Norton, New York. 258 p + index.
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