V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWinian Genesis Synthesis
A. A Major Emergent Evolutionary Transitions Scale
Maynard Smith, John and Eors Szathmary. The Major Transitions in Evolution. Oxford, UK: Freeman, 1995. A significant statement by the late (1920-2004) University of Sussex and the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, theoretical biologist, and which proposes and outlines a sequential series of emergent levels generally cited as atomic, molecular, cellular, organismic, neuronal, primate, and human. Each stage is then distinguished by a new template or vehicle to transmit hereditary information from DNA to language. Originally posted in 2004, this perception has become by 2010 widely accepted and cited in the literature as articulating a real evolutionary advance, whose revolutionary implications are just beginning to be appreciated.
Muller, Viktor, et al. An Evolutionary Perspective on the Systems of Adaptive Immunity. Biological Reviews. Online July, 2017. As the quotes convey, Muller and Eors Szathmary, Eotvos University, Hungary, Rob de Boer, Utrecht University, and Sebastian Bonhoeffer, ETH Zurich offer an extended thesis about systemic ways that creaturely organisms attain a distinct individual identity by such protections against outside agents. By this analysis, a better sense of what may constitute a sequential major evolutionary transition is said to be possible.
We propose an evolutionary perspective to classify and characterize the diverse systems of adaptive immunity that have been discovered across all major domains of life. We put forward a new function-based classification according to the way information is acquired by the immune systems: Darwinian immunity (currently known from, but not necessarily limited to, vertebrates) relies on the Darwinian process of clonal selection to ‘learn’ by cumulative trial-and-error feedback; Lamarckian immunity uses templated targeting (guided adaptation) to internalize heritable information on potential threats; finally, shotgun immunity operates through somatic mechanisms of variable targeting without feedback.
Nonacs, Peter, et al.
Social Evolution and the Major Evolutionary Transition in the History of Life.
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
The editors for this special section are Peter Nonacs UCLA (Center for Behavior, Evolution & Culture,) Karen Kapheim, Utah State University (comparative genomics) and Heikki Helantera, University of Helsinki, (evolutionary ecology) are deeply engaged in field and conceptual studies which could be well served by an endemic structural arrangement and emergent orientation (Brief capsules in their own words below.) As an observation, just as a teleologic course could no longer be ignored (section herein), so this nested scale from 1995 is now similarly gaining a full, revelant acceptance. Its inclusion then describes a revolutionary (EarthWin) appreciation of life’s true developmental gestation. A further merit is a strongest case to date for an ascendant personsphere sapience learning on her/his own.
In their classic 1995 book, John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmáry sketched the evident presence of eight major evolutionary transitions (METs) in the long history of life on earth. But 27 years since, optional views, and detail debates about defining features and qualities still persist. Attempts to find deep, constant patterns and processes also go on, but have not yet integrated this entire sweep of evolution and ecology from replicating molecules to loquacious humans. It seemed appropriate to post a topical issue which could gather, assimilate and enjoin these many aspects, air specific issues and consider a common, nested sequence. To wit, METs are seen to occur as fusions of independent individuals into a higher order entity, along with a novel way that information is stored and transmitted. In addition, the ecological context where this ascendant course goes on is rarely considered. Into these 2020s, new findings and novel ideas about life’s developmental stirrings, genetic bases and consequent course to our consummate global retrospective could provide a salutary synthesis. (Nonacs, et al, Introduction excerpt)
O’Malley, Maureen and Russell Powell. Major Problems in Evolutionary Transitions: How a Metabolic Perspective can Enrich Our Understanding of Macroevolution. Biology & Philosophy. 31/2, 2016. University of Sydney and Boston University philosophers of science argue that while this sequential scale from life’s molecular and genetic origins to human linguistic society has gained wide acceptance and usage, it can be improved and filled out by interactive aspects such as Earth’s biological oxygenation, along with acquisitions of mitochondria and plastid organelles. Although reservations are noted, this recurrent, nested emergence is seen as a valid, substantial work in process. While the original 1990s version by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary had seven levels, it is now up to eight (search ES), and herein a ninth is added as the “origin of electronic cultural transmission.” But further concern is its appearance of an oriented ascent toward humankind, for the current paradigm denies any teleological ladder or scala naturae. This is a serious quandary, largely unnoticed or addressed, which blocks our efforts to fully reconstruct and interpret. An aim of this website is to document how human beings have more significance, worth, purpose, empowerment, and destiny than ever allowed or imagined.
Powers, Simon, et al. How Institutions Shaped the Last Major Evolutionary Transition to Large-Scale Human Societies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Vol.371/Iss.1687, 2016. As the four quotes describe, anthropologists Powers, and Carel Van Schaik, University of Lausanne, and Laurent Lehmann, University of Zurich, perceive further stages for this sequential, iterative scale of convergent synthesis due to novel information processing as human civilizations become at once more diversified while being integrated and organized.
What drove the transition from small-scale human societies centered on kinship and personal exchange, to large-scale societies comprising cooperation and division of labour among untold numbers of unrelated individuals? We propose that the unique human capacity to negotiate institutional rules that coordinate social actions was a key driver of this transition. By creating institutions, humans have been able to move from the default ‘Hobbesian’ rules of the ‘game of life’, determined by physical/environmental constraints, into self-created rules of social organization where cooperation can be individually advantageous even in large groups of unrelated individuals. Successful institutions create rules of interaction that are self-enforcing, providing direct benefits both to individuals that follow them, and to individuals that sanction rule breakers. Forming institutions requires shared intentionality, language and other cognitive abilities largely absent in other primates. This allowed anatomically modern humans to create institutions that transformed the self-reliance of our primate ancestors into the division of labour of large-scale human social organization. (Abstract excerpts)
Rafiqi, Matteen, et al. Origin and Elaboration of a Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality. Nature. 585/239, 2020. As the abstract cites, McGill University, Montreal and Bezmialem Vakif University, Istanbul biologists discuss how the latest detailed studies of morphogenetic forms and processes are revealing the innate, persistent ways that a natural genesis proceeds toward further scalar levels of organismic complexities. An elaborate graphic display depicts a course for bacterial symbiotic integration.
Obligate endosymbiosis, in which distantly related species integrate to form a single replicating individual, represents a major evolutionary transition in individuality. Although such transitions are thought to increase biological complexity, the evolutionary and developmental steps that lead to integration remain poorly understood. Here, we show that obligate endosymbiosis between the bacteria Blochmannia and the hyperdiverse ant tribe Camponotini originated and elaborated through radical alterations in embryonic development, as compared to other insects. By this example and others, we find that the convergence of pre-existing molecular capacities and ecological interactions—as well as the rewiring of highly conserved gene networks—may be a general feature that facilitates the origin and elaboration of major transitions in individuality. (Abstract excerpts)
Rinkevich, Baruch. The Apex Set-up for the Major Transitions in Individuality. Evolutionary Biology. Online June, 2019. A senior Israeli marine biologist and educator agrees that life’s emergent development is well represented by this nested, sequential scale. Its repetition of mutual units within bounded wholes from unicellularity to organisms, colonies, and superorganic groupings is now affirmed as nature’s formative method, (as also present in neural architecture.) Into the 2010s, each regnant stage can be seen to relatively constitute a (semi)autonomous personal entity. As a contribution novel clarifications, instances, and expansions are suggested so to gain better sight of life’s ascendant zenith.
Morphological and functional hierarchies occurring in contemporary biological entities are amalgamated via a small number of progressive key-steps termed as Major Transition in Evolution (MTE) that encompass steps of Major Transition in Individuality (MTI). Literature views MTE/MTI in nature as a sequential increase in complexity, and has contributed insights into the emergence of genuine MTI candidates that actually build higher order individuals from simpler entities. By considering a novel MTI trajectory termed the ‘MTI continuum’, I found no literature consensus for this continuum’s apex. Next, I consider the properties of biological entities termed as ‘superorganism’ (eusocial insects, humans), also considered as highly-developed MTIs. Then I assign the emergence of three new MTI diachronic-classes, the colonial-organisms, chimerism and multi-chimerism, suggesting that they represent highly complex MTIs. These novel MTIs yet still generate genuine and distinct libertarian entities. (Abstract excerpt)
Robin, Amanda, et al.. Major Evolutionary Transitions and the Roles of Facilitation and Information in Ecosystem Transformations. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. December, 2021. A contribution by UCLA and Stanford University biologists to a special Social Evolution and the Major Evolutionary Transition in the History of Life issue (see Peter Nonacs for review) which provides a rare, latest extension of this emergent scale onto its global fulfillment. Such a obvious but unfamiliar perception likely had to hold off until a 2020s retrospect to admit and appreciate this evident domain which has long been the basis for our EarthWise attribution. In regard, we offer an array of quotes.
Into the 21st century, the presence of “Major Evolutionary Transitions” (METs) with novel forms of organismal complexity, information and individuality have gained increasing notice among biologists. Into these 2020s, we introduce this special collection meant to gather many findings into an overdue full scale, explanatory recognition of life’s main ascendant course. We also seek to provide this evolutionary sequence within an ecological basis, aka Major System Transitions (MSTs). In regard, important morphological adaptations are noted that spread through populations because of direct-fitness advantages for individuals. We elucidate the role of information across five levels: (I) Encoded; (II) Epigenomic; (III) Learned; (IV) Inscribed; and (V) Dark, newly due to abiotic entities rather than organisms. Level IV is then seen to engender a worldwide human phase emergence. (Abstract excerpt)
Rosslenbroich, Bernd. On the Origin of Autonomy: A New Look at the Major Transitions in Evolution. Heidelberg: Springer, 2014. In this book, I develop the proposal that a recurring central aspect of macroevolutionary innovations is an increase individual organismal autonomy in the sense of emancipation from the environment with changes in the capacity for flexibility, self-regulation, and self-control of behavior. (3) The University of Witten/Herdecke physiologist provides a book-length treatment of his hypothesis that a progressive manifestation of personal liberties, within reciprocal symbiotic groupings, is a main axial trend and vector of life’s episodic emergence. The text opens with an historic and current survey, noting the companion 2015 work of Alvaro Moreno and Matteo Mossio (search). Chapters proceed from major transitions in the early Cambrian to complex dynamic functions across bodies to brains, and onto increasing freedoms in supportive communities.
In recent years ideas about major transitions in evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. The author states that a recurring central aspect of macroevolutionary innovations is an increase in individual organismal autonomy whereby it is emancipated from the environment with changes in its capacity for flexibility, self-regulation and self-control of behavior. The first chapters define the concept of autonomy and examine its history and its epistemological context. Later chapters demonstrate how changes in autonomy took place during the major evolutionary transitions and investigate the generation of organs and physiological systems. They synthesize material from various disciplines including zoology, comparative physiology, morphology, molecular biology, neurobiology and ethology. It is argued that the concept is also relevant for understanding the relation of the biological evolution of man to his cultural abilities. Finally the relation of autonomy to adaptation, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity and other factors and patterns in evolution is discussed.
Sandora, McCullen and Joseph Silk. Biosignature Surveys to Exoplanet Yields and Beyond. arXiv:2005.04005. University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University cosmologists propose a more comprehensive guide for future search phases as they proceed to quantify the presence and stage of evolutionary life. As per the second quote, the major transitions scale finds service since each level from microbes to a metropolis will have a characteristic atmospheric signature, along with other indicators. In regard we want to record the wide acceptance and application of this episodic emergence, which is a major structural feature of a genesis synthesis.University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University cosmologists propose a more comprehensive guide for future search phases as they proceed to quantify the presence and stage of evolutionary life. As per the second quote, the major transitions scale finds service since each level from microbes to a metropolis will have a characteristic atmospheric signature, along with other indicators. In regard we want to record the wide acceptance and application of this episodic emergence, which is a major structural feature of a genesis synthesis.
Upcoming biosignature searches focus on indirect indicators to infer the presence of life on other worlds. Aside from just signaling the presence of life, however, some biosignatures can contain information about the state that a planet's biosphere has achieved. This additional information can be used to measure what fractions of planets achieve certain key stages of the advent of life, photosynthesis, multicellularity and technological civilization. Our approach is probabilistic and relies on large numbers of candidates rather than detailed examination of individual exoplanet spectra. The dependence on survey size, likeliness of the transition, and degrees of confidence are discussed. (Abstract excerpt)
Schuster, Peter. Major Transitions in Evolution and in Technology. Complexity. Online March, 2016. The University of Wien biochemist is president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of this journal. Since being conceived by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary in the 1990s, this perception of a recurrent, nested emergent scale from biomolecules to human cultures has become increasingly accepted, verified, and expanded. This contribution goes on to find these common principles to be repeated in some manner in the creation of technological artifacts.
Sela, Itamar, et al. Selection and Genome Plasticity as the Key Factors in the Evolution of Bacteria. Physical Review X. 9/031018, 2018. In this physics journal, aided by current affirmations of a common repetition in kind everywhere, National Center for Biotechnology Information theorists I. Sela, Yuri Wolf and Eugene Koonin report that genomic phenomena takes on the form of a nested scale across many domains or classes. As their Summary below notes, the present re-unification and re-rooting of life in an increasingly fertile cosmos is well served by such evidential findings. See also a reference Family Specific Scaling Laws in Bacterial Genomes by Eleonora De Lazzari, et al in Nucleic Acids Research (45/13, 2017, second quote).
In microbes, different functional classes of genes, such as those involved in information processing, metabolism, and regulation, show scaling exponents with the genome size. However, there is no general theory to explain these “universal laws” of microbial genome evolution. Here, we describe a mathematical model that recovers the differential scaling of functional gene classes in bacterial genomes, includes only two parameters to characterize genomes, selection coefficient and plasticity. After testing the model against genomic data, we conclude that genome plasticity is a key evolutionary factor. Our findings suggest that at least some key aspects of genome evolution can be captured by general theoretical models akin to those widely used in physics. (Sela Summary)