‘The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Philosophical and Historical Dimensions’ Workshop Report thumbnail

‘The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Philosophical and Historical Dimensions’ Workshop Report

by Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda


A group of biologists, philosophers and historians of science recently gathered at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) for the 7th Workshop on History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences organized by Jan Baedke and Christina Brandt, entitled “The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Philosophical and Historical Dimensions” (21-22 March, 2019). This multidisciplinary community of scholars was brought together

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Niche construction, feedback cascades, and how food is produced in Polynesia thumbnail

Niche construction, feedback cascades, and how food is produced in Polynesia

by Seth Quintus & Ethan E Cochrane


Few cultural practices are more fundamentally tied to the environment than agriculture. Because of this, archaeological explanations for the development of food production systems throughout the world have privileged the concept of adaptation. Adaptation in this context has referred to the functional role played by agricultural techniques in an environmental context, for instance the development

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From plasticity to diversity: accommodation of ancestral plasticity results in divergent developmental rates in spadefoot toads thumbnail

From plasticity to diversity: accommodation of ancestral plasticity results in divergent developmental rates in spadefoot toads

by Ivan Gomez-Mestre


“A plausible argument could be made that evolution is the control of development by ecology” Van Valen, 1973   During development, organisms use hereditary information, together with cues from the internal and external environment, to produce their phenotype. I use the term hereditary information purposefully because research in the last two decades has shown that

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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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