A new paper can be found at Phys.Org undermining the idea that what drives evolution is the “decoupling” of DNA with phylogenic structures. This idea is implicit in the twin ideas of pseudogenes and gene duplication: both allow the DNA to become “uncoupled” from the structures they code for and so RM becomes permissible. Well, this paper shuts down this idea.
Given the success of cichlids, understanding the evolution of these two jaws has become an important line of inquiry for biologists. “We’re trying to gain a better understanding of the origins and maintenance of biodiversity,” says Albertson. Researchers have long thought that the two sets of jaws are evolutionarily decoupled and can evolve independently of one another, pushing the boundaries of morphological evolution. However, Conith and Albertson demonstrated that such decoupling does not appear to be the case for cichlids, challenging a quarter-century-old assumption. “What we’ve found is not just that the evolution of the two sets of jaws is linked, but that they’re linked across multiple levels, from genetic to evolutionary,” says Albertson.
To my eyes, this leaves little left of Darwin’s ‘gradualism’, that even Darwin’s “Bulldog,” Thomas Huxley didn’t even buy.