Evolution evolving? Reflections on big questions

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Abstract

John Bonner managed a long and productive career that balanced specialized inquiry into cellular slime molds with general investigations of big questions in evolutionary biology, such as the origins of multicellular development and the evolution of complexity. This commentary engages with his final paper (“The evolution of evolution”), which argues that the evolutionary process has changed through the history of life. In particular, Bonner emphasizes the possibility that natural selection plays different roles at different size scales. I identify some underlying assumptions in his argument and evaluate its cogency to both foster future discussion and emulate the intellectual example set by Bonner over a lifetime. This endeavor is important beyond Bonner's own theoretical disposition because similar issues are visible in controversies about the possibility of an extended evolutionary synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-320
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Volume332
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Ehab Abouheif, Ingo Brigandt, and Max Dresow for comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this commentary.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright:
Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • actualism
  • evolution
  • microbes
  • natural selection
  • size
  • trends

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