Evolution - the Extended Synthesis
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The MIT Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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The biological sciences evolve at a perplexing pace. Since the mid-twentieth century we have witnessed the molecular revolution, a dramatic technical turn in all fields of biology, and the rise and spread of computation, jointly leading to vast amounts of new data, concepts, and models about the organic world. Fundamentally different kinds of information...
I - Introduction
1 - Elements of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis
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More than half a century has passed since the integration of several strands of evolutionary thought into what came to be called the Modern Synthesis (MS), the conceptual framework that has defined evolutionary theory since the 1940s. Despite significant advances since then in all methodological and disciplinary domains of biology, including molecular...
II - Variation and Selection
2 - Reconsidering the Importance of Chance Variation
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In his book Wonderful Life, Stephen Gould offered the following thought
experiment in order to express what he took to be the highly contingent
nature of evolutionary outcomes:
I call this experiment “replaying life’s tape.” You press the rewind button and, making sure you thoroughly erase everything that actually happened, go back to any time and place in the past. . . . Then let the tape run again and see if the...
3 - High-Dimensional Fitness Landscapes and Speciation
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The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s remains the paradigm of evolutionary biology (Futuyma 1998; Gould 2002; Pigliucci 2007; Ridley 1993). The progress in understanding the process of evolution made during that period had been a direct result of the development of theoretical population genetics by Fisher, Wright, and Haldane, who...
4 - Multilevel Selection and Major Transitions
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Multilevel selection (MLS) theory addresses a fundamental issue in evolutionary biology that was not featured strongly in the Modern Synthesis. The concept of major evolutionary transitions and human evolution as a major transition has made MLS theory more relevant than ever before. This chapter will provide a brief overview of MLS theory, ...
III - Evolving Genomes
5 - Integrating Genomics into Evolutionary Theory
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Many of the major advances in evolutionary biology have grown out of synthesis between disparate disciplines. Indeed, synthesis was present right from the beginning. Darwin was a consummate integrator of information: in formulating his theory of natural selection he drew key insights not only from the scientific literature and his own extensive observations...
6 - Complexities in Genome Structure and Evolution
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In 1977, the first genome was sequenced—the viral species ϕX174, a mere 5.4 kb in length—and this sequencing was a landmark in biology (Sanger, Nicklen, and Coulson 1977). It was 18 years later, in 1995, when the genome of a living organism was first announced, the 1.8 Mb Haemophilus influenzae bacterial genome (Flesichmann et al. 1995), ...
IV - Inheritance and Replication
7 - Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance
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Since the 1990s, a growing number of evolution-oriented biologists have expressed the view that the foundations of the Modern Synthesis—the evolutionary paradigm that was constructed during the 1930s and 1940s and has dominated views of evolution for the past 60 years—need rethinking. They believe that the construction of a new, extended, evolutionary synthesis is under way. Challenges to the Modern Synthesis...
8 - Niche Inheritance
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The Modern Synthesis has been a highly successful theory of evolution. However, due to some of its underlying assumptions, it is also the source of conceptual barriers that are currently making further progress in some areas stubbornly difficult...
9 - Chemical, Neuronal, and Linguistic Replicators
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The Modern Synthesis can be extended laterally and vertically. Lateral extensions transfer the thought patterns and the methodology of evolutionary theory to different, previously nonevolutionary disciplines. Examples include replicator and systems chemistry, linguistics, cultural...
V - Evolutionary Developmental Biology
10 - Facilitated Variation
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Before the rediscovery of Mendel’s laws at the turn of the twentieth century, there was confusion about the source of variation upon which natural selection was thought to act, and about the means by which this variation could be inherited. By the mid-twentieth century much of that confusion had dissipated and a consensus view of evolution, sometimes...
11 - Dynamical Patterning Modules
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Multicellular organisms employ a variety of means to attain their definitive forms. Different cell types are generated and deployed into specific patterns, and the tissues they constitute are molded into three-dimensional shapes. The use of conserved developmental mechanisms and the products of variant genes to achieve species-specific outcomes...
12 - Epigenetic Innovation
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The evolution of organismal forms consists of the generation, fixation, and variation of phenotypic characters. The Modern Synthesis concentrated on the last, adaptive variation, essentially avoiding the problem of how complex morphological traits originate and how specific combinations of traits become stabilized as body plans. This variational bias...
VI - Macroevolution and Evolvability
13 - Origination Patterns and Multilevel Processes in Macroevolution
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The expansion of the Evolutionary Synthesis began in the 1970s, and considerable progress has been made. Many of the necessary conceptual elements, including history, scale, and hierarchy, as well as new perspectives on the evolutionary roles of intrinsic factors such as development and extrinsic factors such as mass extinctions and their aftermath, have...
14 - Phenotypic Plasticity
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The concept of phenotypic plasticity has just turned 100 (Woltereck 1909), and yet it is common both in the published literature and especially in the halls of scientific meetings to hear professional biologists make pronouncements that betray their lack of understanding of what plasticity actually is. By far the most common misunderstanding is that...
15 - Evolution of Evolvability
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Over the last half century evolutionary biology has been a highly active and successful field of biological research with an increasing number of journals and online outlets supporting a rapidly growing scientific literature. Many of these publication organs have citation rates equal to or higher than many established journals in molecular biology, and thus it...
VII - Philosophical Dimensions
16 - Rethinking the Structure of Evolutionary Theory for an Extended Synthesis
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Is contemporary evolutionary theory adequate? Does it contain gaps or inconsistencies? Do we need an expanded or extended evolutionary synthesis (Müller 2007; Pigliucci 2007)? There is something presumptuous involved in asking these questions about the scope and status of evolutionary theory, especially from the perspective of philosophy of...
17 - The Dialectics of Dis/Unity in the Evolutionary Synthesis and Its Extensions
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The thesis of my contribution is that the evolution of evolutionary thinking (Hull 1988) since the making of the Modern Synthesis has been characterized by simultaneous unifying and disunifying tendencies, with no end in sight. This should be unsurprising, if not trivial, were it not for the claims of some postmodernists that unity is an ideological aberration, ...
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Page Count: 504
Illustrations: 52 b&w illus., 5 tables
Publication Year: 2010