Do we need an extended evolutionary synthesis?

Evolution. 2007 Dec;61(12):2743-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2007.00246.x. Epub 2007 Oct 9.


The Modern Synthesis (MS) is the current paradigm in evolutionary biology. It was actually built by expanding on the conceptual foundations laid out by its predecessors, Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. For sometime now there has been talk of a new Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES), and this article begins to outline why we may need such an extension, and how it may come about. As philosopher Karl Popper has noticed, the current evolutionary theory is a theory of genes, and we still lack a theory of forms. The field began, in fact, as a theory of forms in Darwin's days, and 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.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Ecology / history
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Models, Biological*