CEFISES EH Seminar: Hugh Desmond, Revisiting Evolutionary Progress


05 décembre 2018



Salle du Conseil Fial - Collège Erasme - Place Blaise Pascal,1

Séance du séminaire des explications historiques, avec Hugh Desmond (KU Leuven): Revisiting Evolutionary Progress

Abstract: The thesis that life has somehow made ‘progress’ throughout evolutionary history has been thoroughly debunked. However, the main alternative thesis of macroevolutionary drift – where evolutionary history makes random (and sometimes irreversible) choices – is unsatisfactory and lives on largely because there is no viable rival. In this paper I look in more detail at the ubiquity of environmental heterogeneity, and the different ecological roles it can play. I then propose the concept of evolutionary unfolding, where evolutionary history is characterized by an increased range of consumption of environmental heterogeneity as ‘resource’. I argue that unfolding is more consistent with eco-evolutionary dynamics, as well as with large-scale empirical features of evolutionary patterns.