Not as far as I can see. Here and here
“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our text- books have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:
“The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps, He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory.”
Darwin’s argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never -seen- in the rocks.
Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.
[Evolution’s Erratic Pace - “Natural History,” May, 1977]”
No but he had to come up with Punctuated Evolution to explain away the lack of transitional forms.
Yes. It was popular for a while but appears to have fallen out of favour. I doubt it will ever be entirely abandoned and will probably have brief resurgences.
Research on the RNA World Hypothesis is ongoing, although recent findings threaten to disprove the hypothesis. NASA apparently stated in a 1996 report that the “significant difficulties” that surround the RNA World concept include the chemical fragility of RNA and its narrow range of catalytic activities.
Biochemist Harold S Bernhardt shares the same concerns and in a 2012 biology paper, he referred to the concept as ‘the worst theory of the early evolution of life.’ His paper states that the complexity of the RNA molecule means it could not have arisen prebiotically; that RNA is unstable and that it possesses limited catalytic properties.
What is the RNA World Hypothesis?
Marcos Eberlin: Unguided Origin of Life “Sold to Us,” but Its Assumptions Are “Insane”
Origin of Life: Intelligence Required (Science Uprising 05)