Physical mechanisms of development and evolution thumbnail

Physical mechanisms of development and evolution

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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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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Developmental bias and evolution thumbnail

Developmental bias and evolution

by Tobias Uller


David Houle and his colleagues must have been tired of flies. By the time they finished, they had been photographing and measuring over 50,000 fly wings. The results revealed that mutations commonly produced particular wing shapes, whereas others were rare. Equally painstaking work has quantified variability of the nematode vulva, butterfly eyespots, and mammalian teeth.

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Structural inheritance: The parent as a developmental template thumbnail

Structural inheritance: The parent as a developmental template

by Katrina J Falkenberg & Russell Bonduriansky


Structural inheritance is an often-neglected form of nongenetic inheritance. In their new book, Extended Heredity: A New Understanding of Inheritance and Evolution, authors Russell Bonduriansky and Troy Day describe numerous examples of structural inheritance, where structural features – and their mutilations – are inherited in subsequent generations through self-templating and related processes.   Parental traits

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Developmental bias: An interview with Wallace Arthur thumbnail

Developmental bias: An interview with Wallace Arthur

by Wallace Arthur & Katrina J Falkenberg


Wallace Arthur is an Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the National University of Ireland in Galway. He is a renowned evolutionary developmental biologist, working across disciplinary boundaries to understand the evolution of animal body plans and segmentation, a subject on which he has published numerous scientific papers and books, as well as popular science pieces.

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D’Arcy Thompson and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis thumbnail

D’Arcy Thompson and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

by Kevin N Laland


Last week I had the privilege of attending the workshop The Conceptual Legacy of “On Growth and Form” held in St Andrews UK, a (late) celebration of the centenary of publication of D’Arcy Thompson’s classic book (1917/1942).1 The meeting, organized by philosophers of biology Alan Love and Sahotra Sarkar, comprised an interesting mix of developmental

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