Defining niche construction thumbnail

Defining niche construction

by Kevin N Laland


Scientists like to define their terms. They believe that it is imperative to pin down key concepts so as to remove ambiguity as to what they mean, and how they are bounded. Definitions, it is argued, facilitate clear thinking and consensual analysis across scientific communities. Philosophers of science, on the other hand, who prize clear

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Domestication as a model system for the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis thumbnail

Domestication as a model system for the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

by Melinda A Zeder


Archaeology has a long history of looking to evolutionary biology for ways to explain the initial domestication of plants and animals. To date, most have been firmly grounded in traditional neo-Darwinian principles. These characterize domestication as an adaptive response to declining resource availability in which human goal-directed behavior plays little if any role. Recently, many

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Intelligent design without a creator? Why evolution may be smarter than we thought thumbnail

Intelligent design without a creator? Why evolution may be smarter than we thought

by Richard A Watson


Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution offers an explanation for why biological organisms seem so well designed to live on our planet. This process is typically described as ‘unintelligent’ – based on random variations with no direction. But despite its success, some oppose this theory because they don’t believe living things can evolve in increments. Something as complex as the

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Research project 9: The evolution of inclusive heredity through the genomic interactions of symbionts thumbnail

Research project 9: The evolution of inclusive heredity through the genomic interactions of symbionts

by Katrina J Falkenberg


‘The evolution of inclusive heredity through the genomic interactions of symbionts’ is one of five research projects under the third theme, Inclusive Inheritance, of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis research program. Michael Wade and Armin Moczek (both at Indiana University), are using theoretical models and experiments in dung beetles to investigate how the evolution of symbiotic

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Research project 7: The origins of organismal complexity thumbnail

Research project 7: The origins of organismal complexity

by Katrina J Falkenberg


‘The origins of organismal complexity’ is one of six research projects under the second theme, Evolutionary Innovations, in the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis research program. Charlie Cornwallis and Per Lundberg, together with Karin Rengefors and Lars-Anders Hansson (all at Lund University), are investigating the origins of multicellularity.   The emergence of multicellularity, that is, single cells

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A TVOL interview with Tobias Uller: Orchestrating the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis project thumbnail

A TVOL interview with Tobias Uller: Orchestrating the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis project

by David Sloan Wilson and Tobias Uller 


This View of Life (TVOL) is featuring a series of articles on the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, based on a major grant from the John Templeton Foundation awarded to our team of scientists headed by Kevin Laland (St Andrews University) and Tobias Uller (Lund University). This interview with Tobias begins to introduce the empirical side of

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Who’s afraid of the Extended Synthesis? thumbnail

Who’s afraid of the Extended Synthesis?

by Massimo Pigliucci


“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” So wrote physicist Max Planck, in his Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, (1949, pp. 33–34). That’s a bit drastic, perhaps,

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What evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo) brings to evolutionary biology thumbnail

What evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo) brings to evolutionary biology

by Armin P Moczek


Evolutionary biology is a very vibrant and highly successful discipline. Since its reformulation during the modern synthesis it has successfully tackled many major questions and developed into a sophisticated, powerful framework. But it is important to emphasize that there are foundational questions in evolutionary biology, questions that have motivated evolutionary biology from its inception, that

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What animal social learning can teach evolutionary biology thumbnail

What animal social learning can teach evolutionary biology

by Kevin N Laland & Andrew Whiten


In November, a colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, entitled The Extension of Biology through Culture, celebrated a coming of age of animal social learning research. The meeting, co-organised by ourselves, Marcus Feldman and Francisco Ayala, was a striking testament to how far the study of animal culture has come in recent decades and

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A TVOL interview with philosopher Kim Sterelny: A conversation about the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis thumbnail

A TVOL interview with philosopher Kim Sterelny: A conversation about the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

by David Sloan Wilson & Kim Sterelny


David Sloan Wilson of This View of Life (TVOL) interviews Kim Sterelny, one of the world’s most prominent philosophers of biology. Sterelny has served as editor of the journal Biology & Philosophy since 2000 and his books include: Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology; Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition; Dawkins vs. Gould:

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