Looking past the tabloid prose, they say they found that selection can occur at the level of the epigenome:
The field of evolutionary biology has seen its share of spirited debates. But if there’s one principle that virtually every expert in the field agrees on, it’s that natural selection occurs at the level of the genome.
But now, a UC San Francisco-led research team has discovered the first conclusive evidence that selection may also occur at the level of the epigenome — a term that refers to an assortment of chemical “annotations” to the genome that determine whether, when and to what extent genes are activated — and has done so for tens of millions of years. This unprecedented finding subverts the widely accepted notion that over geologic timescales, natural selection acts exclusively on variation in the genome sequence itself.
In a study published Jan. 16, 2020 in the journal Cell, the researchers show that Cryptococcus neoformans — a pathogenic yeast that infects people with weakened immune systems and is responsible for about 20 percent of all HIV/AIDS-related deaths — contains a particular epigenetic “mark” on its DNA sequence, which, based on their lab experiments and statistical models, should have disappeared from the species sometime during the age of the dinosaurs.University of California – San Francisco, “‘Living fossil’ may upend basic tenet of evolutionary theory: Natural selection’s reach extends beyond genome into epigenome, study suggests.” at ScienceDaily (January 16, 2020)
So what becomes of neo-Darwinism if selection isn’t tied to the all-powerful but accidental gene?
See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!