Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)

Radford Neal radford at cs.toronto.edu
Mon Sep 9 11:49:38 EST 1996

In article <dyanega-0809962157300001 at catalpa.inhs.uiuc.edu>,
Doug Yanega <dyanega at denr1.igis.uiuc.edu> wrote:

>> Yes to the origin of new function (i.e, the new function has
>> evolved).  
>No. Evolution is a property of a population - "functions" do not evolve,
>they arise. Evolution is the underlying change in the genetic material,
>not the function that *results* from that change.

Editorial standards at Nature, and major publishing houses, must be
deteriorating.  Looking at just one recent issue of Nature (11 July
1996), I see the following uses of this terminology:

     Page 124: Book review of "The Shape of Life: Genes, Development,
               and the Evolution of Animal Form", by R. A. Raff.

     Page 126: (far right column, in a review of another book), "In 
               between are chapters on the evolution of stamens, ...".

     Page 158 (middle left column): "...whereas the evolution of

The article on page 127 also contains numerous uses of the word
"evolution" that are difficult to make sense of in terms of your
preferred definition of evolution as "change in the frequency of

    Radford Neal

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