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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWinian Genesis Synthesis

G. Universal Gestation: Phylogeny and Ontogeny

Heglund, Norman and Benedicte Schepens. Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny?: Locomotion in Children and Other Primitive Hominids. Bels, Vincent, et al, eds. Vertebrate Biomechanics and Evolution. Oxford: BIOS Scientific Publishers, 2003. Parallels are proposed between how children learn to walk and the stages passed through during the evolution of hominid upright bipedal movement.

Hill, Jason, et al. Similar Patterns of Cortical Expansion during Human Development and Evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107/13135, 2010. Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, research physicians find strong parallels between neural maturation in hominid evolution and for each infant and child. As the article describes, it seems obvious that life’s cognitive advance has to proceed this recurrent way.

By comparing human and macaque monkey cerebral cortex, we infer that the pattern of human evolutionary expansion is remarkably similar to the pattern of human postnatal expansion. To account for this correspondence, we hypothesize that it is beneficial for regions of recent evolutionary expansion to remain less mature at birth, perhaps to increase the influence of postnatal experience on the development of these regions or to focus prenatal resources on regions most important for early survival.

Hurford, James, et al, eds. Approaches to the Evolution of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Several papers make note of linguistic recapitulation, especially one by Michael Studdert-Kennedy that finds support from the “general biological principles of self-organization.”

inagaki, Kayoko and Giyoo Hatano. Young Children’s Conception of the Biological World. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 15/4, 2015. Chiba University, Japan developmental psychologists provide a summary of their ongoing studies that preschool and elementary youngsters have a distinct array of beliefs about life and nature. They conceive an innately organic, vitally alive, personified animism, a folk biology that refers to an essential, vivifying immanence. Our interest in this widely accepted view is that it is the same as humankind’s indigenous perceptions such as Chinese, African, and American Indian animist wisdom. By this comparison, a further recapitulation between ontogeny and phylogeny is revealed. See also The Roots of Folk Biology by Frank Keil (PNAS 110/15857, 2013) and Developing Domain-Specific Causal-Explanatory Frameworks by Gail Gottfried and Susan Gelman (search).

What are the components of children's biological-knowledge system before systematic teaching at school? Can this knowledge system be called naive biology? We propose that young children's biological-knowledge system has at least two essential components—(a) the knowledge needed to identify biological entities and phenomena and (b) teleological and vitalistic causality—and that these components constitute a form of biology. We discuss how this naive biology serves as the basis for performance and learning in socially and culturally important practices, such as health practices and biology instruction. (Abstract)

Itakura, Shoji and Kazuo Fujita, eds. Origins of the Social Mind. Toyko: Springer, 2008. Kyoto University psychologists edit a volume whose authors consider the “phylogeny and ontogeny of social cognition,” within the compass of Evolutionary Developmental Psychology, aka Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Their integration is seen in Itakura’s summary chapter to suggest a broad recapitulation of human and humankind, as noted below.

Then, what do phylogeny and ontogeny have in common? Bjorklund and Pellegrini (search herein) indicated the following with regard to this point: (1) the underlying mechanisms that stimulate changes in these two types of development are similar and (2) the processes affecting phylogeny and those affecting ontogeny are significantly similar. (200)

Jan, Steven. From Holism to Compositionality: Memes and the Evolution of Segmentation, Syntax and Signification in Music and Language. Language and Cognition. Online March, 2015. The mid 2010s seem to be graced by historical syntheses that extend across every subject domain. Here a University of Huddersfield professor of music and drama consolidates many years of this retrospective study to describe how primate to hominid to human sapience came to sing and speak. In a general way, “melodic-rhythmic” right hemisphere and bilateral modes preceded the later occasion of “segmentation and sentences,” with their left side preference. A main source in this regard is the University of Oxford anthropologist Iain Morley, see his The Prehistory of Music (2013) and earlier writings. Once again a common parallel is discerned between each of us and the way that our forebears came to tempo and talk.

Steven Mithen argues that language evolved from an antecedent he terms “Hmmmmm, [meaning it was] Holistic, manipulative, multi-modal, musical and mimetic”. Owing to certain innate and learned factors, a capacity for segmentation and cross-stream mapping in early Homo sapiens broke the continuous line of Hmmmmm, creating discrete replicated units which, with the initial support of Hmmmmm, eventually became the semantically freighted words of modern language. That which remained after what was a bifurcation of Hmmmmm arguably survived as music, existing as a sound stream segmented into discrete units, although one without the explicit and relatively fixed semantic content of language. All three types of utterance – the parent Hmmmmm, language, and music – are amenable to a memetic interpretation which applies Universal Darwinism to what are understood as language and musical memes. On the basis of Peter Carruthers’ distinction between ‘cognitivism’ and ‘communicativism’ in language, and William Calvin’s theories of cortical information encoding, a framework is hypothesized for the semantic and syntactic associations between, on the one hand, the sonic patterns of language memes (‘lexemes’) and of musical memes (‘musemes’) and, on the other hand, ‘mentalese’ conceptual structures, in Chomsky’s ‘Logical Form’ (LF). (Abstract)

Hemispheric Localization of Music and Language Significant progress has been made over the last decade in understanding the localization of musical and linguistic function in the brain and the resulting knowledge aligns well with the evolutionary account of Hmmmmm bifurcation offered by Mithen. To summarize (and inevitably oversimplify) a
complex picture, structures in the right hemisphere appear to dominate the processing and generation of contour, tonality and timbre of both melody and speech; whereas structures in the left hemisphere appear to dominate the processing and generation of syntactic organization and semantic content in language, together with rhythmic structure in both language and music. (21)

Kemp, Tom. The Origin of Higher Taxa: Palaeobiological, Developmental, and Ecological Perspectives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. In a chapter subsection, the emeritus Oxford University zoologist notes that while Ernst Haeckel’s 19th century views of a close recapitulation between embryos and evolution does not hold, broad parallels do in fact necessarily exist, more akin to Karl von Baer’s model, whence “successive embryonic stages of an organism illustrate the sequence of states by which the character had evolved from the ancestral state” (49).

Knight, Chris, et al, eds. The Evolutionary Emergence of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. With coeditors Michael Studdert-Kennedy and James Hurford, a subsequent volume to Hurford 1998 above which explores the rise of a verbally represented code with regard to its species recapitulation, genetic parallels, self-organization and so on. A paper by Michael Studdert-Kennedy is again of especial relevance.

Kohsokabe, Takahiro and Kunihiko Kaneko. Dynamical Systems Approach to Evolution–Development Congruence: Revisiting Haeckel's Recapitulation Theory. Journal of Experimental Biology. B. February, 2021. Some 140 years later, RIKEN Center for Biosystem Dynamics and Universal Biology Institute, University of Tokyo veteran researchers (search KK) provide a novel 21st century qualification for general parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny. The main novel resource is the active presence of gene regulatory networks, along with complex system influences. See also Recapitulation-like Developmental Transitions of Chromatin Accessibility in Vertebrates by Masahiro Uesaka, et al in Zoological Letters (5:33, 2019).

It is acknowledged that embryonic development has a tendency to proceed from common toward specific. Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) raised the question of why that tendency prevailed through evolution, and the question remains unsolved. Here, we revisit his recapitulation theory of a parallel between evolution and development through numerical evolution and dynamical systems theory. By using intracellular gene expression dynamics with cell‐to‐cell interaction over spatially aligned cells to represent the developmental process, gene regulation networks (GRN) that govern these dynamics evolve under the selection pressure to achieve a prescribed spatial gene expression pattern. For most numerical evolutionary experiments, the evolutionary pattern changes over generations, as well as the developmental pattern changes governed by the evolved GRN exhibit remarkable similarity. (Abstract excerpt)

Kohsokabe, Takahiro and Kunihiko Kaneko. Evolution-Development Congruence in Pattern Formation Dynamics: Bifurcations in Gene Expressions and Regulation of Networks Structures. Journal of Experimental Zoology B. 326/1, 2016. The study of correspondences between life’s creaturely evolution and individual embryogeny has had a checkered course from Karl von Baer and Ernst Haeckel in the mid 19th century through the mechanist 20th century. But in this posting, University of Tokyo, Center for Complex Systems Biology researchers propose a radically novel approach just now possible. By way of life’s 21st century reinterpretation via nonlinear theories, whence the same nonequilibrium complex systems hold everywhere, for this reason phylogeny and ontogeny will and must inherently recapitulate each other. See also Network Evolution of Body Plans from the Kaneko Lab in PLoS One (3/7, 2008). This is a huge, novel resolution and advance just beginning to be grasped and worked out.

Although the phrase ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny turned out to be incorrect, the search for possible relationships between development and evolution still gathers much attention. Recently, dynamical- systems analysis has proven to be relevant to both development and evolution, and it may therefore provide a link between the two. Using extensive simulations to evolve gene regulation networks that shape morphogenesis, we observed remarkable congruence between development and evolution: Both consisted of the same successive epochs to shape stripes, and good agreement was observed for the ordering as well as the topology of branching of stripes between the two. This congruence is explained by the agreement of bifurcations in dynamical-systems theory between evolution and development, where slowly varying gene-expression levels work as emergent control parameters. In terms of the gene regulation networks, this congruence is understood as the successive addition of downstream modules, either as feedforward or feedback, while the upstream feedforward network shapes the boundary condition for the downstream dynamics, based on the maternal morphogen gradient. Acquisition of a novel developmental mode was due to mutational change in the upstream network to alter the boundary condition. Our results provide a fresh perspective on evolution-development relationship, as well as on the acquisition of developmental novelty. (Summary)

Konner, Melvin. The Evolution of Childhood. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010. Noted much more in Current Vistas, with several quotes, the Emory University anthropologist arrives, in his conclusion, at one of the strongest appreciations of an individual ontogeny, and life's evolutionary phylogeny.

Levit, Georgy and Uwe Hossfeld. Self-Organization Meets Evolution: Ernst Haeckel and Abiogenesis. Dambricourt Malasse, Anne, ed. Self-Organization as a New Paradigm in Evolutionary Biology. International: Springer, 2022. Schiller University, Jena biologists provide a latest 19th to 21st century re-unification of these “non-Darwinian” vitalities of form and function which seem to innately arise and recur in kind from a conducive nature.

Although Darwin proposed a logically coherent theory of evolution about the natural occurrence of natural life forms, he did not explain the origin of life. This task was instead taken up by his German pupil Ernst Haeckel (1934 -1919) by way of intrinsic processes rooted in “inorganic” substance. In a major book, Generelle Morphologie (General Morphology), he postulated the origin of life on Earth by way of archigonia, i.e., spontaneous generations of primitive monera from matter. Essentially, Haeckel’s concept was a self-organization hypothesis within a Darwinian frame. In this chapter, we reconstruct Haeckel’s theory of abiogenesis as a self-organization theory and demonstrate its importance to life’s origin in this post-Darwinian era.

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