They said it; we didn’t. Of course, some of it is put in muted tones:
Our modern conception of evolution started with Charles Darwin and his idea of natural selection – “survival of the fittest” – to explain why certain individuals thrive while others fail to leave a legacy. Then came genetics to explain the underlying mechanism: changes in organisms caused by random mutations of genes.
Now this powerful picture is changing once more, as discoveries in genetics, epigenetics, developmental biology and other fields lend a new complexity and richness to our greatest theory of nature. Find out more in this special feature.Michael Le Page, Colin Barras, Richard Webb, Kate Douglas and Carrie Arnold, “Evolution is evolving: 13 ways we must rethink the theory of nature” at New Scientist (September 23. 2020)
If by “our greatest theory of nature,” the writers mean textbook Darwinism, well these new concepts are destroying it. What becomes of “natural selection acting on random mutation” if a variety of means of evolution are “natural,” mutations are not necessarily random, genes aren’t selfish and don’t come only from parents, and the fittest don’t necessarily survive? Just for a start…
Never mind that. They also say “species don’t really exist…” What? After all the hoo-haw around “speciation?” This is like saying “phlogiston doesn’t really exist.”It’s not an idle thing to transform the science picture of the world. But it is about time to begin.
Most of the article is paywalled but here is their outline, courtesy Rob Sheldon:
1 GENES ARENʼT DESTINY (genetic plasticity)
2 EVOLUTION SHOWS INTELLIGENCE (memory, optimization, induction)
3 MOVE OVER, SELFISH GENE (cultural group altruism)
4 THERE IS MORE TO INHERITANCE THAN JUST GENES (epigenetics)
5 SPECIES DONʼT REALLY EXIST (taxonomic anarchy)
6 ADAPT FIRST, MUTATE LATER (Neo-Lamarckian adaptation)
7 WE CAN SHAPE OUR OWN EVOLUTION (Niche construction)
8 CHANGE CAN BE QUICK (contemporary evolution)
9 SURVIVAL OF THE… LUCKIEST (genetic drift)
10 GENES DONʼT JUST COME FROM PARENTS (HGT)
11 SOME THINGS ARE BETTER AT EVOLVING (evolvability)
12 EVOLUTION FAVOURS CERTAIN OUTCOMES (developmental bias)
13 WE CAN STOP EVOLUTION (anti antibiotic-resistance)
Evolution might be a much more interesting topic without Darwin and his militia. The article is very long so we’ll get back to you about other stuff they have to say that is of interest.
See also: A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans