A fitter theory of evolution?

Symonds, Neville
September 1991
New Scientist;9/21/91, Vol. 131 Issue 1787, p30
The article focuses on and supports the idea that organisms can adapt their genes to suit a new environment. Orthodox theory holds that spontaneous genetic change and the environment behave as two independent forces in evolution. The environment selects mutations but it cannot "direct" them. According to Lamarckism, however, the opposite is true: genetic change occurs in direct response to environmental pressure. This heresy has never mustered much support among modem biologists who have always been resistant to the idea of the environment restricting genetic change to beneficial mutations. Not surprisingly, neo-Darwinism has dominated efforts to trace the origins of spontaneous genetic mutations. Molecular biologists have revealed that such mutations arise because the molecular machinery that copies DNA is error prone. INSET: Shortening the odds against evolutionary change, by David Concar.


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