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Evolution, The Extended Synthesis

A short comment by Gert Korthof   ( 14 Jun 2014 )

Evolution - the Extended Synthesis
Edited by Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd B. Müller

The book is based on the Workshop 'Toward an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis' at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research organized by Massimo Pigliucci and Gerd B. Müller, July 2008.

I = Darwinism, II = Modern Synthesis, III = Extended Synthesis
Red numbers: chapters in the book. (I added the numbers in the figure)
From: Pigliucci, Müller (2010) Evolution, The Extended Synthesis, page 11

Comments on the above figure: about I (Darwinism): Darwinism was certainly more than those 3 elements (for example: sexual selection).
About III: The 8 extensions in the figure are largely identical with the chapters (or sections) in the book.
So, the Pigliucci-Müller Extended Syntheses contains about the same topics as the workshop. That means those scientists that have been invited.
What is missing from this synthesis: see my Extensions, revisions and alternative theories on the Introduction page of this website. For example: symbiosis? cooperation? physical factors, forces that constrain forms, functions, etc. (1). Further subjects like: climate science; geochemistry; earth systems science; astrobiology; evolutionary medicine; evolution of the brain, etc. (See: what is missing). Also, well known critics of traditional mainstream neo-Darwinism are missing: Eugene V. Koonin (2)

Interesting chapters:
Chapter 5: Gregory Wray: Integrating genomics into evolutionary theory. (p.97-116) (population genetics is highly abstract and simple!) and Chapter 6: Michael Purugganan: Complexities in genome structure and evolution. (p.117-134)


  1. Elizabeth Pennisi. Water's Tough Skin. Science 14 March 2014. Surface tension is a force to be reckoned with, especially if you are small.
  2. Eugene V. Koonin (2009) Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics; Koonin EV, Wolf YI. (2009) Is evolution Darwinian or/and Lamarckian?; O'Malley MA, Koonin EV. (2011) How stands the Tree of Life a century and a half after The Origin?

       Further Reading  

  • The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry Paperback, by Suzan Mazur
  • Ulrich Kutschera, Karl J. Niklas (2004) 'The modern theory of biological evolution: an expanded synthesis', Naturwissenschaften, June 2004, Volume 91, Issue 6, pp 255-276 Published online: 17 March 2004.
  • Massimo Pigliucci: DO WE NEED AN EXTENDED EVOLUTIONARY SYNTHESIS? Evolution Volume 61, Issue 12, pages 2743-2749, December 2007:
    • "As philosopher Karl Popper has noticed, the current evolutionary theory is a theory of genes, and we still lack a theory of forms. ... the major goal that an EES will aim for is a unification of our theories of genes and of forms. This may be achieved through an organic grafting of novel concepts onto the foundational structure of the MS, particularly evolvability, phenotypic plasticity, epigenetic inheritance, complexity theory, and the theory of evolution in highly dimensional adaptive landscapes".
  • Altenberg Workshops in Theoretical Biology
  • Francesca Merlin (2010) Evolutionary Chance Mutation: A Defense of the Modern Synthesis' Consensus View, Philosophy and Theory in Biology, Sept 2010.
  • Nigel Goldenfeld, Carl Woese (2010) Life is physics: evolution as a collective phenomenon far from equilibrium.
    • "We discuss how condensed matter physics concepts might provide a useful perspective in evolutionary biology, the conceptual failings of the modern evolutionary synthesis, the open-ended growth of complexity, and the quintessentially self-referential nature of evolutionary dynamics."
  • Eugene V. Koonin and Yuri I. Wolf (2012) Evolution of microbes and viruses: a paradigm shift in evolutionary biology?, Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2012. (free)
  • Nature: Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? 8 authors argue YES!, 7 authors argue NO! (free). Among the authors arguing Yes, are: Kevin Laland, Gerd B. Müller, Eva Jablonka, John Odling-Smee. (Pigliucci is not present):
    • YES: "Some of us first met to discuss these advances six years ago. In the time since, as members of an interdisciplinary team, we have worked intensively to develop a broader framework, termed the extended evolutionary synthesis1 (EES)..."
    • NO: "But we do not think that these processes [phenotypic plasticity, niche construction, inclusive inheritance and developmental bias] deserve such special attention as to merit a new name such as 'extended evolutionary synthesis'."

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Korthof blogspot home: Towards the Third Evolutionary Synthesis https://wasdarwinwrong.com/korthof95.htm
Copyright ©G. Korthof First published: 14 Jun 2014 Further Reading/Notes updated: 8 okt 2014