During most of my first 50 years, I accepted the idea of evolution almost unquestioningly. I didn’t see how any thinking man or woman could come to any other conclusion. But as I conducted the research for my first book, Not by Fire but by Ice, a few bits of contrary information began seeping into my consciousness.
I learned that many geomagnetic reversals—far more than could be dismissed as mere coincidence—had occurred in sync with mass extinctions. And many of those magnetic reversals had occurred in sync with our planet’s descent into catastrophic glaciation.
I learned that paleontologists had discovered unexplained layers of carbon lying next to dinosaur remains, and that they had also found unexplained deposits of radioactive materials lying next to dinosaur remains
I learned that entirely new kinds of plants and animals appeared in the geologic record almost immediately after extinctions—time after time after time. The new plants and animals had arrived as if from nowhere, with no known ancestors, with no intermediate life forms to explain their sudden presence.
Where did all of those new plants and animals come from? And why did their arrival so often coincide with geomagnetic reversals?
My curiosity was piqued.
How is it that evolution is supposed to work? One tiny step at a time? C’mon, I thought, let’s get real. You don’t cross huge chasms with timid little steps, you take one giant leap. Small steps are useless. What good is half an ear? What good is half an eye?
Then one day I ran across the answer.
“What good is half a wing?” asked geneticist Richard Goldschmidt in his 1940 book The Material Basis of Evolution. “Or half a jaw?” If evolution works in tiny imperceptible steps, asked Goldschmidt, why do we never find those intermediate stages in the fossil record?
Because they never existed.
New species do not evolve slowly, said Goldschmidt, they arise abruptly.
I knew what I had to do. I had to continue my research until I could answer that question – and as many of the other geologic questions as I could – point by point, in plain, everyday language. And thus was born Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps.
At the time I made that decision, I didn’t realize how acrimonious the debate over evolution can become.
It’s the “Creeps” versus the “Jerks.” The creeps (so dubbed by the jerks) insist that evolution creeps along in a smooth, gradual process occurring over vast periods of time. The jerks (so dubbed by the creeps), maintain that evolution works suddenly; that it makes sudden leaps.
Overall, I agree with the “jerks.” But in my opinion, they have never presented a credible mechanism to explain their position—to explain what causes those leaps.
In these pages you will find such a mechanism. You will learn how geomagnetic reversals triggered those evolutionary jumps; you will learn that those jumps recurred according to a predictable, natural cycle, and you will learn that the next beat of that cycle is now due.
I hope you enjoy reading Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.