I will be attending the Royal Society Meeting on New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives. I'll post each of the abstracts and ask for your help in deciding what question to pose to the speakers. Here's the abstract for Paul Brakefield's talk on Does the way in which development works bias the paths taken by evolution?
Developmental bias was defined in a seminal review some thirty years ago that resulted from an early ‘meeting of minds’ of developmental and evolutionary biologists driven by John Maynard Smith and Lewis Wolpert. Although there has been dramatic progress since then in revealing in exquisite detail how morphologies develop, there are few well-worked case studies of potential developmental bias, as well as little understanding of how important the process has been in shaping the evolution of animal form. Therefore, it is timely to think about what is needed to facilitate the analysis of the extent to which patterns of evolutionary diversification are biased by how development works, and indeed whether it is useful to distinguish this process from that of genetic channeling.Here are two possible questions for Paul Brakefield ...
Stephen Jay Gould published Ontology and Phylogeny in 1977. He wrote extensively about developmental constraints until his death in 2002. Richard Dawkins also wrote about developmental constraints, most notably in his discussion of whether pigs could fly in The Blind Watchmaker. How do your views differ from those that have been around for decades and why do you think it requires a modification of evolutionary theory today?
In The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Gould wrote 270 pages on developmental constraints emphasizing their POSITIVE role in evolution as opposed to just their negative effects on limiting natural selection. He said,
The concept of constraint must include theoretically legitimate and factually important positive meanings—i.e., constraints as directing causes of particular evolutionary changes—rather than only the negative connotations of structural limitations that prevent natural selection from crafting an alteration that would otherwise be favored and achieved.How do your views differ from what Gould wrote about so extensively in 2001?