Evolution evolving? Reflections on big questions

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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
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

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© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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


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