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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Develops, Encodes and Organizes Itself: An Earthtwinian Genesis Synthesis

Gottlieb, Gilbert. Developmental-Behavioral Initiation of Evolutionary Change. Psychological Review. 109/2, 2002. Rather than natural selection alone, the behavior of an organism, which influences its developmental genetics, is the leading edge of evolution.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Volume 879, 1999. The late Harvard paleontologist and author suggests a more appropriate fractal view of evolution as an egalitarian nest of scales, rather than as a reduction to one “superior” level.

Gregorcic, Andrej and Igor Jerman. On the Structure of Theoretical Evolutionary Space in Relation to Biological Laws. Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum. 102/3, 2010. This journal published by Tilgher Genova began in 1919 as a home for more holistic views of evolving life that is open to and allows an inherent, spontaneous lawfulness. Here University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, scientists contribute to an imminent, overdue, reconception of life’s sequential ascent in terms and as a result of nonlinear, self-organizing network dynamics. Consider Di Bernardo from the same journal, also Goldenfeld and Woese, and a host of others whiom increasingly presage this epochal shift from an aimless selection alone to an intrinsic genesis synthesis.

According to neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, the dominant causal role in biological evolution is played by historical contingencies, both at the level of spontaneous variation and at the level of limited environmental resources. The natural selection, as well as evolution based on it, are thus supposed to be of essentially historical nature. The omnipresence of biological convergences challenges this view. We propose that law-like universal constraints on internal organismic organization as well as on their environment, originating from universal characteristics of nonlinear and complex dynamical systems, may confer some of the observed regularity and repeatability of evolutionary patterns. (323)

Gregory, T. Ryan. Macroevolution, Hierarchy Theory, and the C-value Enigma. Paleobiology. 30/2, 2004. A long-standing lack of correspondence between the total eukaryotic DNA content and its amount of active haploid genes, known as C-value, with an organism’s complexity is said to be resolved by a multi-scale model of evolution. By this view, population genetics joins with paleontology because relative genome size exemplifies hierarchy in action. The author’s website www.genomesize.com contains a comprehensive database of animal haploid genome size (C-values in picograms) for nearly 4,000 species.

To put it bluntly, the origin of integrated genomes, and therefore of cellular life itself, may be owed to the operation of hierarchical selection during the earliest stages of evolution on the Earth. (188)

Gregory, T. Ryan, ed. The Evolution of the Genome. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004. A “post-genomic era” brings significant new understandings of what genes (genotypes) are and how they interact with developing and adult organisms (phenotypes). This 700 page book offers a comprehensive coverage of these findings and issues. In a conclusion, Gregory imagines a further evolutionary synthesis that is truly integral because it assimilates previously isolated micro and macro realms.

A central theme of this volume is that genomes represent a distinct and legitimate level of biological organization, with their own inherent properties and unique evolutionary histories. (vii)

Hall, Brian. Descent with Modification: The Unity Underlying Homology and Homoplasy as Seen Through an Analysis of Development and Evolution. Biological Reviews. 78/3, 2003. Clarifications and advances in this collaborative project to achieve a new synthesis of ontogeny and phylogeny. The article is also an entry to Hall’s major writings in the evo-devo field of reuniting embryology and evolution.

Homology is similarity because of common descent and ancestry, homoplasy is similarity arrived at via independent evolution. However, given that there is but one tree of life, all organisms, and therefore all features of organisms, share some degree of relationship and similarity one to another. (409)

Hall, Brian, et al, eds. Environment, Development and Evolution. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. A collection of papers inspired by the work of the Japanese-American biologist Ryuichi Matsuda (1920-1986) who through studies of endocrinology in an environmental context sought to revise and broaden the Darwinian version. Noted authors from both within and outside orthodoxy such as Elizabeth Vrba, Mary Jane West-Eberhard and Marvelee Wake, along with Robert G. B. Reid, Eugene Balon and Roy Pearson consider how epigenetic effects, developmental plasticity, alternative ontogenies and so on contribute to the reconvergence of embryology and phylogeny and a 21st century synthesis.

Halley, Julianne and David Winkler. Critical-like Self-organization and Natural Selection: Two Facets of a Single Evolutionary Process? BioSystems. 92/2, 2008. These dual aspects struggling toward unity might be helpfully compared with psychologist Barbara Held’s new book which seeks to join “truth” with “agency.” CSIRO (Australia) biologists similarly propose that inherent physical forces can be seen to impel living systems to a state of self-organized criticality, prior to selective environmental influences. Life’s iterative emergence could be said to proceed through a creative interplay of inherency and contingency. The paper is an exemplary contribution to a nascent 21st century genesis synthesis. (See also the author's paper: "Consistent Concepts of Self-organization and Self-assembly" in Complexity 14/2, 2008)

We argue that critical-like dynamics self-organize relatively easily in non-equilibrium systems, and that in biological systems such dynamics serve as templates upon which natural selection builds further elaborations. We suggest that these interactions between SOC-like dynamics and natural selection have profound consequences for biological systems because they could have facilitated the evolution of division of labour, compartmentalization and computation, key features of biological systems. The logical conclusion of these ideas is that the fractal geometry of nature is anything but coincidental, and that natural selection is itself a fractal process, occurring on many temporal and spatial scales. (148)

In evolutionary biology, it has become apparent that there is a need for new theoretical frameworks that explain how natural selection and self-organization interact. In this paper we propose the basic elements of such a theory. We explain how self-organized systems that are supercritical in limiting environments are driven back to critical like states, and how this process provided a fractal-like template on which natural selection can act. (149) However, we feel that iteration between self-organizing critical-like fluctuations and natural selection could facilitate the evolution of a great diversity of patterns. In particular, it is easy to imagine how such iteration could facilitate the evolution of two ubiquitous features of biological systems: compartmentalization and division of labor. (153)

Hallgrimsson, Benedikt and Brian Hall, eds. Variation. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005. In this collection are for the first time many papers which consider how and why the biological hierarchy across genetic, developmental, organismal, species, population, and community/ecological levels changes in time and form. The studies are aided by new insights and tools from bioinformatics and computational biology. The second quote is from a concluding article by Hallgrimsson, Hall and Yardley Brown. See also the Dan McShea article.

This volume appears at a time when the synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology (evo-devo) is reaching a mature phase. Indeed, the prospect for a new synthesis bridging genetics, development, ecologic, and evolutionary biology now seems more likely than at any time in the past. (6) The developmental genetic basis for variability most likely resides in emergent properties of the genetic networks that regulate development such as nonlinearity, thresholds, and redundancy. It is our view that understanding the sources of phenotypic variation and the causes of phenotypic variability will converge into a single area of study as we develop a systems understanding of how variation is generated and regulated within developmental systems. (548)

Harmon, Luke. Contingent Predictability in Mammalian Evolution. Current Biology. 27/11, 2017. A review of a Geography of Ecological Niche Evolution in Mammals article by French, Swiss, and Italian biologists in the same issue who find a common convergence to persist amongst disparate animal spatial environments.

Convergence of distantly related species to similar forms speaks to the predictability of evolution, but we still lack general insights into whether convergence is more common or rare than we would expect. Using a global dataset of mammalian species, Mazel and colleagues find that both convergence and divergence occur more often than expected. Convergence was especially common at broad scales that involved Australia, speaking to the extraordinary replicate mammalian communities found there.

Hazen, Robert. Chance, Necessity and the Origins of Life: A Physical Sciences Perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 375/2016.0353, 2016. We note this essay by the Carnegie Institute geochemist (search 2019) for its content and affinity to writings by the paleontologist George McGhee (2016, 2019 herein). They both reject Jacques Monod’s 1970 verdict that all is accident, and instead agree that while randomness is rife, an overall physical, geologic, biochemical, anatomic and physiologic evolution is constrained as it develops emergent scales of complexity and sentience. But any admission of an innate orthogenesis is a step that cannot yet be taken.

Earth's 4.5-billion-year history has witnessed a complex sequence of high-probability chemical and physical processes, as well as ‘frozen accidents’. Most models of life's origins similarly invoke a sequence of chemical reactions and molecular self-assemblies in which both necessity and chance play important roles. Recent research adds two important insights into this discussion. First, in the context of chemical reactions, chance versus necessity is an inherently false dichotomy—a range of probabilities exists for many natural events. Second, given the combinatorial richness of early Earth's chemical and physical environments, events in molecular evolution that are unlikely at limited laboratory scales of space and time may, nevertheless, be inevitable on an Earth-like planet at time scales of a billion years. (Abstract)

In 2015, we discovered that the diversity and global distribution of mineral species follow statistical patterns analogous to the arrangement and frequency of words in a book. Whereas a few words such as ‘a’, ‘and’ and ‘the’ are common in any book, the majority of different words are used rarely. On Earth, the resulting ‘large number of rare events’ (LNRE) distribution of minerals facilitates a calculation of the probabilities for more than 5000 chemical reactions. (2) Because this observed distribution of mineral species on Earth is analogous to that of words in a book, modification of lexical statistics facilitates application of LNRE models to characterize the diversity and distribution of Earth’s minerals. (3)

Chance versus necessity is a misleading dichotomy. Even if estimates of the four relevant parameters described above are in error by a few orders of magnitude, the implications of Earth’s combinatorial chemical richness are clear: chemical reactions that are improbable to reproduce at the short time scale and limited spatial dimensions of laboratory experiments—experiments, for example, requiring exacting physical and chemical conditions or unusual juxtaposition of several reactant molecules on an uncommon mineral surface—may be inevitable under the diverse physical and chemical environments possible at planetary scales of space and time. (7)

Hazen, Robert, et al. Functional Information and the Emergence of Biocomplexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104/Supplement 1, 2007. The various papers tend to emphasize a certain quality, in this case the symbolic informational content of animate systems such as RNA sequences.

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