The evolution of anti-teaching thumbnail

The evolution of anti-teaching

by James Allen


In 1921 a British tit was observed opening a milk-bottle to eat the cream inside, and over the next 26 years this unique innovation spread to over 30 different sites. As just one example out of hundreds, this shows how animal populations contain a mixture of innovation and learning, with novel behaviors discovered, developed and

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Maternally transmitted dung beetle microbiota are species-specific, and impact host development across generations thumbnail

Maternally transmitted dung beetle microbiota are species-specific, and impact host development across generations

by Erik S Parker & Armin P Moczek


Much of evolutionary biology is motivated by one basic question: what determines biological diversity? Traditional explanations emphasize the role of natural selection acting on variation among the individuals that make up a population, sorting them into fit and less fit versions, thereby creating adaptation and diversification across generations. However, recent advances in the study of

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Workshop report: Developmental Biases in Evolution thumbnail

Workshop report: Developmental Biases in Evolution

by Wim Hordijk


“Developmental bias is a manifestation of a much more fundamental principle, and is the norm rather than the exception”, according to one scientist. “Developmental bias is a misleading term and we should get rid of it”, according to another. Both were in the same room, at the same time. So what is developmental bias, what

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Darwin 1.0: Is the EES playing catch-up? thumbnail

Darwin 1.0: Is the EES playing catch-up?

by Ben Bradley


A consequence of the gene-centric view of evolution we call the Modern Synthesis (MS) is to foster a severe constriction in scientists’ understandings of Darwin. Despite Darwin’s original treatment of evolution being enormously rich, he becomes the purveyor of just one dangerous idea: evolution by natural selection – the idea which, when modified by the

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Talking Evolution workshop report thumbnail

Talking Evolution workshop report

by Dominik W Schmid & Katrina J Falkenberg


In the last week of September, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, hosted a workshop entitled Talking Evolution. Key topics discussed were niche construction, phenotypic plasticity, developmental bias, and extra-genetic inheritance. The workshop was organized by Noémie Erin, Alice Feurtey, Vandana Venkateswaran and Dominik Schmid, four early career researchers, and Maren

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Physical mechanisms of development and evolution: An interview with Stuart Newman thumbnail

Physical mechanisms of development and evolution: An interview with Stuart Newman

by Stuart A Newman & Katrina J Falkenberg


Stuart Newman is a Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York. He is a prominent evolutionary developmental biologist, well known for his pioneering work on vertebrate limb development and the role of physical mechanisms in development and morphological evolution. Katrina Falkenberg is the science communication and

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Synergistic Selection and the Self-Made Man thumbnail

Synergistic Selection and the Self-Made Man

by Peter A Corning


Part I: ‘Synergistic Selection’: It could be called Holistic Darwinism   The word “Synergy” is only vaguely familiar to many of us. Perhaps we associate it with corporate mergers, or drug interactions, or some other commonplace usage. In fact, synergy is a ubiquitous phenomenon. It is literally everywhere around us, and it represents one of

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Ancestral plasticity paves the way for evolutionary novelty in spadefoot toads thumbnail

Ancestral plasticity paves the way for evolutionary novelty in spadefoot toads

by Nicholas A Levis


The question, “Where do new traits come from?” has long puzzled evolutionary biologists. New traits are often assumed to arise exclusively from genetic changes – including, but not limited to, mutations in regulatory sequences or gene bodies, inversions, and gene (or genome) duplications. Mary Jane West-Eberhard formalized a hypothesis in which the evolution of novelty

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The unlikely but fruitful waltz of a curious couple: Phenotypic plasticity and learning theory thumbnail

The unlikely but fruitful waltz of a curious couple: Phenotypic plasticity and learning theory

by Miguel Brun-Usan


When the Modern Synthesis was put together in the early decades of the twentieth century, natural selection became the obvious focus of evolutionary thought. Although this focus has increased our understanding of biological evolution by orders of magnitude, it tells us little about how phenotypic variation is produced. Variation – the third evolutionary pillar envisioned

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Extended Heredity: An interview with Russell Bonduriansky and Troy Day thumbnail

Extended Heredity: An interview with Russell Bonduriansky and Troy Day

by Russell Bonduriansky, Troy Day, Kevin N Laland & Katrina J Falkenberg


Extended Heredity: A New Understanding of Inheritance and Evolution is a fantastic new book by Russell Bonduriansky and Troy Day about the role of nongenetic inheritance in evolution. There are many similarities between the views presented in the book and the extended evolutionary synthesis but there are also differences. Kevin Laland identified some of these

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