Re: The evolution of "evolution"

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Fri 14 Oct 2005 - 08:36:46 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: The evolution of "evolution""


    I'm having real difficulty understanding your line of argument.

    >When one is knowledgeable in embryology,

    I like to think that I am, having a PhD in it
    (evo-devo to be precise with the emphasis more on the devo than the evo) and having spent 10 years as a researcher in the field (1986-1996)

    >The embryonic pattern is very close to what
    >Stephen J. Gould and al. described and derived
    >from the study of geological times. [snip] Being
    >so, you can’t seriously expect one to say
    >“the physical development of the embryo is in agreement with Darwinism”.

    I'm aware of Gould's "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" work, but I don't think you can then leap to the conclusion that it is not compatible with Darwinism. Gould regarded himself as a Darwinian, and a whole section of "Structure of Evolutionary Theory" is dedicated to evo-devo. I think you are mistaken in setting up "punctuated equilibrium" as a non-Darwinian theory. It's a theory about the fossil record that has implications for evolutionary rates and mechanisms of speciation, and also to a certain extent inter-species selection, but none of those things make it un-Darwinian, as Gould himself argued at length.

    [snipped bit about chain reactions]

    I understand chain reaction as something within the realms of chemistry. As far as embryogenesis is concerned, I'm not sure that chain reaction is the best term to use. There is a sequence of causes and effects governed by a genetic program, but is that really a chain reaction? In any case, I'm not sure why you think a failure, if I have one, to understand chain reactions, is relevant.

    >High school students know these 4 basics; they
    >know they apply to all chain reactions no matter
    >their chemical, biological, etc., nature. You
    >are much beyond the grade “high school
    >student”, and what did you say along three short posts?
    > > (Nuclear genes) are orders of magnitude more
    > important than any slight extra-nuclear or kinetic effects.

    Yes, I say that because it is true. There is no mitochondrial gene that exerts the same effect on development as, say, fushi tarazu, dorsal, Antennapedia etc.

    >What are we supposed to understand? The
    >mitochondrial genes are not developmental? The
    >mitochondrial genes are not programming?

    Yes, that is what is the case. Do you have an example of a mitochondrial mutation with gross developmental effects? Where is the mitochondrial equivalent of bithorax, for instance?

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