Workshop report: Integrating development and inheritance thumbnail

Workshop report: Integrating development and inheritance

by Kevin Laland & Tobias Uller


Last month, researchers from around the world gathered at the Santa Fe Institute to discuss the evolutionary implications of extra-genetic inheritance. The workshop – Integrating Development and Inheritance – was organized as part of the EES research program. For two and a half days the participants – biologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, anthropologists, historians and philosophers of science –

read more
Bridging cultural gaps: Promoting interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolution thumbnail

Bridging cultural gaps: Promoting interdisciplinary studies in human cultural evolution

by Oren Kolodny, Marcus W Feldman & Nicole Creanza


Within the blink of an eye on a geological timescale, humans advanced from using basic stone tools to studying the rocks on Mars; however, our exact evolutionary path and the relative importance of genetic and cultural evolution remain a mystery. Our cultural capacities—to create new ideas, to communicate and learn from one another, and to

read more
Extended evolutionary synthesis needs to include the social sciences thumbnail

Extended evolutionary synthesis needs to include the social sciences

by Joe Brewer


It is an intellectual riddle—why is it that the biological and social sciences are divided into so many separate fields? If there was a “new synthesis” for evolutionary biology almost a hundred years ago, how did it manage to exclude (or get excluded by) the burgeoning fields of research that study the social behaviors of

read more
Getting into the weeds: Individual plasticity and adaptive variation thumbnail

Getting into the weeds: Individual plasticity and adaptive variation

by Sonia E Sultan


Starting with Watson and Crick, genes have been defined as stretches of the DNA molecule that contain developmental instructions for particular traits; evolutionary biologists consider genotypic variations to be the source of the differences among individual organisms that result in natural selection. Yet this elegantly simple view of adaptive evolution overlooks the fact that environmental

read more
The holobiont as a unit of selection thumbnail

The holobiont as a unit of selection

by Scott F Gilbert and colleagues


In our recent paper published in Biological Theory, we present compelling evidence that the holobiont is a unit of evolutionary selection, and we propose a new mathematical model to help us understand its evolution. But first, what is a holobiont? A holobiont is a large organism (a “macrobiont,” such as an animal, fungus, or plant)

read more
Completing Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: A TVOL conversation with Kevin Laland thumbnail

Completing Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: A TVOL conversation with Kevin Laland

by David Sloan Wilson & Kevin N Laland


These are exciting times for the study of cultural evolution, with important books appearing regularly. One of these is Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind, by Kevin N Laland, which won the British Psychological Society’s prize for the best academic book of 2017. Kevin has been featured several times on TVOL as a leading

read more
The philosophy of social evolution thumbnail

The philosophy of social evolution

by Jonathan Birch


To coincide with the publication of his latest book, The Philosophy of Social Evolution, philosopher Jonathan Birch is this week’s guest blogger on The Brains Blog. Read his series of posts below.     Part 1. Altruism in nature Part 2. Relatedness and altruism Part 3. Relatedness, time and bacteria Part 4. The social organism

read more
What functional ectopic compound eyes can teach us about the role of context in development and evolution thumbnail

What functional ectopic compound eyes can teach us about the role of context in development and evolution

by Eduardo Zattara & Armin Moczek


Organisms are mosaics of diverse traits. Some of these, such as eyes, limbs, or light producing organs, attain a remarkable level of complexity: each is comprised of a large number of component parts that relate to each other through often intricate and precise interactions, most if not all of these being required for the trait

read more
Developmental niche construction in dung beetles thumbnail

Developmental niche construction in dung beetles

by Daniel B Schwab, Sofia Casasa & Armin P Moczek


Understanding the extraordinary fit between organisms and their environments, or the nature of adaptation, is a long-standing focus of evolutionary biology. Traditionally, evolutionary biologists have focused on two routes to adaptation: organisms may adjust their phenotypes developmentally during their lifetimes through phenotypic plasticity, or across generations through evolved genetic changes in phenotype expression. A growing

read more
Research project 10: Host adaptation via change in its microbiome thumbnail

Research project 10: Host adaptation via change in its microbiome

by Marc W Feldman & Oren Kolodny


There has been growing awareness of the importance of studying the holobiome – the eukaryote organism with its microbiome – for the understanding of eukaryote evolution1-6. The holobiont complex is a system that flexibly self-assembles through reciprocal interactions between the organisms that participate in it, at multiple time scales6-8. To understand the evolutionary forces acting

read more

Back to top