How to fit in: The learning principles of cell differentiation thumbnail

How to fit in: The learning principles of cell differentiation

by Miguel Brun-Usan


The logic underlying cell differentiation has motivated an intense field of debate over years. How can plastic, developing cells “know” exactly where and how to differentiate ? Given that cells are aquipped with genetic networks, could they benefit from some form of basic learning, as cognitive systems do with neural networks? In our recent paper,

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Synthesising Arguments and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis thumbnail

Synthesising Arguments and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

by Andrew Buskell


  Philosophers of science are sometimes seen by practicing scientists as useless, or unnecessary. Take scientist, writer, and broadcaster Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson recently poked fun at philosophical questions and methods, wondering whether a philosopher could ever be a “productive contributor to our understanding of the natural world.1” And many philosophers of science are familiar

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Domestication and Agriculture are the Outcome of Plant Gene-Human Culture Coevolution thumbnail

Domestication and Agriculture are the Outcome of Plant Gene-Human Culture Coevolution

by Arie Altman & Alex Mesoudi


In our recent paper, “Understanding agriculture within the frameworks of cumulative cultural evolution, gene-culture coevolution and cultural niche construction” (Human Ecology 47:483–497), we apply the framework and concepts of Gene-Culture Coevolution (GCC), Niche Construction (NC) and Cumulative Cultural Evolution (CCE) to agriculture. All three concepts were originally conceived with respect to human culture and human

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Organism-Constructed Environments are Different thumbnail

Organism-Constructed Environments are Different

by Kevin Laland


I am very happy that the article Niche construction affects the variability and strength of natural selection, which I co-authored with Andrew Clark, Dominik Deffner, John Odling-Smee, & John Endler, has just been published in The American Naturalist. I’ve argued for a long time that niche construction – the modification of environments by organisms – is

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Does Inheritance Need a Rethink? Conceptual Tools to Extend Inheritance beyond the DNA thumbnail

Does Inheritance Need a Rethink? Conceptual Tools to Extend Inheritance beyond the DNA

by Sophie Veigl, Javier Suárez, & Adrian Stencel


Inheritance is an essential component of evolutionary processes. Without inheritance, evolution by natural selection cannot lead to the accumulation of complex, adaptive traits. But what can be inherited, and how?   Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb argued in “Evolution in Four Dimensions” that in addition to genetic inheritance, evolution can also work on epigenetic,

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The Evolution of Robustness thumbnail

The Evolution of Robustness

by Wim Hordijk and Lee Altenberg


In Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the key phrase is “survival of the fittest”: those organisms that are best fit to carry out the tasks of living in their world are the ones that survive. But they won’t live forever — they must have offspring that inherit the traits that made them fit

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“Evolutionary Causation” (2019): Interview with co-editor Tobias Uller thumbnail

“Evolutionary Causation” (2019): Interview with co-editor Tobias Uller

by Lynn Chiu


It’s out! 15 chapters. 345 pages. “Evolutionary Causation: Biological and Philosophical Reflections“, edited by Tobias Uller and Kevin Laland, has just been released through the MIT Press. This is THE book of the EES project, a collection of tightly integrated essays written by biologists and philosophers to together investigate the causal structure of evolutionary processes.

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Early Career Spotlight with Illiam Jackson thumbnail

Early Career Spotlight with Illiam Jackson

by Lynn Chiu


Illiam Jackson just wrapped up his work at Tobias Uller’s lab (Lund) and is moving on to great things. We talked to Illiam about himself, his work, and papers he liked under the EES project.   Check out his new paper:   Developmental bias in the fossil record.[download PDF]Illiam S. C. Jackson. 2019. Evolution &

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Early Career Spotlight with Thomas Oudman thumbnail

Early Career Spotlight with Thomas Oudman

by Lynn Chiu


In today’s early career spotlight, we talked to Thomas Oudman, visiting scholar at the Laland Lab, University of St. Andrews.   Two of his papers just came out:   Northward range expansion in spring‐staging barnacle geese is a response to climate change and population growth, mediated by individual experience.[download PDF]Tombre IM, Oudman T, Shimmings P, 

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The “Does Evolutionary Theory Need a Rethink?” Debate: A Backstory thumbnail

The “Does Evolutionary Theory Need a Rethink?” Debate: A Backstory

by Kevin Laland


In October 2014, Nature magazine published “Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?”, an exchange in back-to-back articles between advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ and more traditionally minded researchers. The exchange provoked considerable discussion across many academic fields, which continues to this day. Recently, on Twitter, a question was raised concerning the origin of this

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