Os biólogos que querem revisar profundamente a teoria da evolução

quinta-feira, dezembro 01, 2016

Douglas Futuyma, a biologist at Stony Brook University, defends the “Modern Synthesis” of evolution at the Royal Society earlier this month.
Tom Parker / Quanta Magazine

The Biologists Who Want to Overhaul Evolution

A half-century’s worth of scientific discoveries since the last major update to evolutionary theory has some researchers pushing for a paradigm shift.

“I think it’s going quite well,” Laland said. “It hasn’t gone to fisticuffs yet.”

Laland is an evolutionary biologist who works at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. On a chilly gray November day, he came down to London to co-host a meeting at the Royal Society called “New Trends in Evolutionary Biology.” A motley crew of biologists, anthropologists, doctors, computer scientists, and self-appointed visionaries packed the room. The Royal Society is housed in a stately building overlooking St. James’s Park. Today the only thing for Laland to see out of the tall meeting-room windows was scaffolding and gauzy tarps set up for renovation work. Inside, Laland hoped, another kind of renovation would be taking place.

In the mid-1900s, biologists updated Darwin’s theory of evolution with new insights from genetics and other fields. The result is often called the Modern Synthesis, and it has guided evolutionary biology for over 50 years. But in that time, scientists have learned a tremendous amount about how life works. They can sequence entire genomes. They can watch genes turn on and off in developing embryos. They can observe how animals and plants respond to changes in the environment.

As a result, Laland and a like-minded group of biologists argue that the Modern Synthesis needs an overhaul. It has to be recast as a new vision of evolution, which they’ve dubbed the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Other biologists have pushed back hard, saying there is little evidence that such a paradigm shift is warranted.

This meeting at the Royal Society was the first public conference where Laland and his colleagues could present their vision. But Laland had no interest in merely preaching to the converted, and so he and his fellow organizers also invited prominent evolutionary biologists who are skeptical about the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.

Both sides offered their arguments and critiques in a civil way, but sometimes you could sense the tension in the room—the punctuations of tsk-tsks, eye-rolling, and partisan bursts of applause.

But no fisticuffs. At least not yet.


Read more here/Leia mais aqui: The Atlantic


This blogger's commentary:

In the first chapter of the book “The Extended Synthesis” editors Gerd Müller and Massimo Pigliucci explained that the new synthesis (EES) overcomes the Modern Synthesis in three basic points:


“The dynamics of biological systems illuminates the capacity of continuous selectional regimes to produce the nongradual phenotypic change frequently observed in the paleontological record.” (p. 13)


Instead of giving priority to all external factors and natural selection alone as the main cause of biological novelties the EES considers that “the specificity of its phenotypic outcome is provided by the developmental system it operates on. Hence the organisms themselves represent the determinants of selectable variations and innovation.” (p. 13)


“Gene-centrism necessarily disappears in an extended account that provides for multicausal evolutionary factors acting on organismal systems´ properties, including the non programmed components of environment, development and inheritance.” (p. 14)

If one overcomes gradualism, the central role of natural selection and gene centrism in creating new phenotypic traits, as far as Darwinism is concerned, what have we got left? And what about information? I wish these scientific points were fully discussed on the RS meeting. A new general theory of evolution needs to replace the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis.