Blog Rating

Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« Single-Source Posts | Main | Into the Unknown »



If there's one thing we know about evolution from the past thirty years of research (and the past ten in particular), its that random mutation with subtle effects of the kind Darwin imagined are real, but that larger, swifter changes are also very real. Puncutated equilibrium as well as gene transfer (where the genes of a parasitic virus or bacteria are incorporated into the genes of its host) are two sources of such change. The question thus becomes, what sort of genetic change is behind the evolution of speech? As Fitch argued at the conference, the fossil record really doesn't help us here since it tells us next to nothing about what was going on in the heads of our ancestors.

Ultimately, I think an answer with any hope of definitiveness has to come from geneticists.

BLOGGER: No matter what the source of a genetic change, mutation or parasitic transfer, evolution depends on selection and selection takes generations. The quickest sort of change comes with the selection of an already established variety. In those cases, the favored allele is already scattered among the population and can become dominant in a hurry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bookmark and Share

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Visitor Data

Blog powered by Typepad