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hopeful monstershoffnungsvolle Monster (ger.)

  • A hypothetical new phenotype, or monstrosity, that arises due to mutations that radically alter an individual's developmental pattern. Such an individual, it is claimed, could possess major innovations that equip it for an environment quite different from that of its immediate antecedents. The concept, which was introduced in 1933 by the geneticist R. Goldschmidt, presents a way in which, theoretically, a new group could arise in a single macroevolutionary leap, rather than by the gradual process of natural selection producing many small adaptive changes – the route favoured by orthodox neo-Darwinians. It is regarded by many as implausible and unsupported by fossil evidence. (Oxford Dict. of Biology 2008)

    I […] emphasized the importance of rare but extremely consequential mutations affecting rates of decisive embryonic processes which might give rise to what one might term hopeful monsters, monsters which would start a new evolutionary line if fitting some empty environmental niche.

    Goldschmidt, R. (1933). Some aspects of evolution. Science 78, 539-547: 547.