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evo, devo, and neuro

Hemidactylus at my-dejanews.com Hemidactylus at my-dejanews.com
Tue Mar 2 19:10:59 EST 1999

In article <36DA1590.63A2AC4C at sympatico.ca>,
  steve madison <s.madison at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> Scott, since you are mentioning Gould, he mentioned a concept in his book Full
> House about complexity that may apply here.  Namely that if organisms are very
> simple (and there are lots, as in species, of them) more complex - multicellular-
> organisms are the only way for expansion due to random fluctuations.  all the
> simple plans are taken but given enough random tries (evolutionary mutations or
> whatever) a more complex plan will be developed.  so if we have only the one
> receptor - one neurotransmitter perfect fit, over time the situation would
> naturally tend towards a more complex (multiple receptors and transmitters with
> lots of cross-talk) model.i'm sure you can follow the idea despite my (i'm sure)
> inappropriate use of the technical words.  it's difficult to paraphrase someone
> else's field. :o)

I regretfully haven't read any of Gould's newer books yet. Some of what you
discuss above might interrelate with the work of Stuart Kauffman. I've been
reading Kauffman's _At Home in the Universe_ which is a more popularized
presentation of his theories compared to _The Origins of Order_. Kauffman's
stuff is heavily theoretical and not very easily grasped without having a PhD
in mathematics (at least not quite yet by me :-)).

I'm "stuck in the '70's" with Gould's _Ontogeny and Phylogeny_. This book
contains an interesting (and extensive) history behind the overlap of
evolution and development. Gould also introduces Bolk's fetalization
hypothesis and discusses human brain related evolutionary issues centering on
the putative mechanism of heterochrony (shift in timing of developmental
events from ancestral to descendant species). The specific subtype of
heterochrony he discusses is paedomorphosis (aka neoteny). I think he might
return to this neoteny subject in _The Mismeasure of Man_. I've read about
competing hypotheses concerning heterochrony and human brain evolution and
some critique of the concept (in Rudy Raff's _The Shape of Life_).


Scott Chase

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