One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the 20th century and perhaps the best known since Charles Darwin, Dr. Gould touched off numerous debates, forcing scientists to rethink sometimes entrenched ideas about evolutionary patterns and processes. Outside of academia, Dr. Gould was almost universally adored by those familiar with his work. In his column in Natural History magazine, he wrote in a voice that combined a learned Harvard professor and a baseball-loving everyman. He was depicted in cartoon form on ''The Simpsons,'' and renovations of his SoHo loft in Manhattan were featured in a glowing article in Architectural Digest. He attended P.S. 26 and Jamaica High School. He then enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio, where he received a bachelor's degree in geology in 1963. In 1967, he received a doctorate in paleontology from Columbia University and went on to teach at Harvard, where he would spend the rest of his career. But it was in graduate school that Dr. Gould and a fellow graduate student, Dr. Eldredge, now a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, began sowing the seeds for the most famous of the still-roiling debates that he is credited with helping to start. He was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard and the Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University.