Thursday, 28 November 2013

Paradigm shift! or not...whatever

Pigliucci argues that there is no, and will be no paradigm shift regarding the modern synthesis. He states that current evolutionary theory should shift to form (plasticity, epigentic inheritance) instead of a focus on genetic theory.
He goes on to propose as Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES), and how he expects it to come to fruition and become fairly expected over the next decade or so.
The modern synthesis is lacking, in terms of not including anything on form, as well as developmental biology, which wasn't include in 'evolutionary theory' until 1977 (Gould) in a paper called Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Followed by the Evo-Devo thing in the 1990's.
In terms of plasticity; there is no longer just the topic of 'heritability' in its basic form. There is an enormous dependence on genotype-interactions (these can be studied/investigated by looking at the reactions norm that Simon was talking about) - plasticity exists in almost every species that it has been investigated for. Pigliucci also says, like Simon also showed today, that plasticity can lean towards evolutionary change, preceding genetic change itself.
Pigluicci states that epigenetics is not a contradiction to genetic inheritance (and so the Modern Synthesis) but instead is an extremely complex extension of the field.
He uses this term to highlight the idea that natural selection may not be the only 'organizing principal' available to explain the complexity of biological systems. Natural selection would not be ignored or thought of as a secondary role, just interact with the theory of form.

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