[Molecular-evolution] Reply to Faustino's proposal on evolution

Antonio Marco via mol-evol%40net.bio.net (by marcasan from uv.es)
Sun Nov 11 12:08:53 EST 2007


Dear mol-evol members and Faustino,

I've recently read your proposal about the definition of evolution.
Doubtless, "evolution" (in a biological manner) is a difficult term, but
I'm sure that the definition exposed in wikipedia is the best we have.
Evolution means change, not adaptation. In evolutionary biology there is
a great controversy on the role of Natural Selection, adaptation,
mutation, chance and so on, as causes of evolutionary change.

We all evolutionary biologist spend a considerable fraction of time on
discussing which is the main evolutionary force, and you can see
different views, for instance:

-  M. Kimura, T. Ohta, M. Nei... (neutralism). Evolution is driven by
stochastic process. Adaptation plays a "sieving" not a "creative" role.
-  S. Kauffman, R. Solé. Self-organizing principles drives the evolution
of species. Adaptation to new environments is a byproduct
-  E. Wiley. Evolution is an entropic driven process. There is a net
increase on entropy of living systems which results in evolutionary
processes independent of adaptation.
-  R. Dawkins, Maynard-Smith (and many many more). Adaptation is crucial
on evolution, acting as a kind of optimization principle over living beings.

This is an oversimplification of some of the different trends in
evolutionary biology, and you can refer to other authors such as Mike
Lynch, Gillespie, Andreas Wagner, Dan Hartl, Dan Graur, Svante Pääbo and
tens of other biologists to see different points of view of what
evolution is.

Nevertheless all of them, as the rest of evolutionary biologists, have a
point in common that is: species change, and only the inheritable
changes are transmitted to the next generation, and therefore the change
is maintained. So the best definition we have of evolution is
INHERITABLE CHANGE. An adaptation-based definition would be biased and
partial.

Best

Toni Marco



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