The properties and patterns of behavior formed by biological evolution are recorded and transmitted as genes or groups of genes. Analogously, the name meme was introduced for information determining a trait transmitted culturally (Dawkins 1976; Blackmore 2001). For example, a meme can consist in knowledge of how to separate grain from sand thrown into water, a certain locally specific melody in finch song, the writing “Leroy was here”, or the formula E = mc2. While nucleic acid is a natural carrier of genes (the hard disk of a computer is an unnatural artificial carrier), the natural carriers of memes consist in the memories in the brains of animals. Genes and memes have a common important property in that they have variants (mutations) that can compete in their dissemination. In the former case, this corresponds to dissemination in the gene pool of the population while, in the latter case, within the meme pool, i.e. within the limited memory capacity of members of a particular species. However, there is one very substantial difference between genes and memes. Genes, i.e. the relevant sections of a nucleic acid, are transmitted directly by copying from one generation to the next and thus function as replicators. According to the information contained in them, the bodies of the organisms – interactors (vehicles) are newly formed in each generation (see also IV.9.1 and XII.4.1). Natural selection, but not molecular drive, occurs at the level of interactors, specifically uneven transmission of the individual replicators derived from various interactors to the following generations. Simultaneously, genetic information emerges (through mutations), is transmitted from one generation to the next and accumulates during biological evolution at the level of replicators. A change in a replicator is manifested in the properties of the interactor, while a change in the interactor cannot be manifested in the properties of the replicator and can thus not be transmitted to the following generation. For a meme, the replicator is very frequently, but not always identical with the interactor. Individuals directly copy” certain behavior, rather than a gene for the particular behavior. As a consequence, a random adaptive change in behavior can be a subject of imitation and can thus be transmitted to future generations. Acquired traits can thus be inherited here.

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The classical Darwinian theory of evolution can explain the evolution of adaptive traits only in asexual organisms. The frozen plasticity theory is much more general: It can also explain the origin and evolution of adaptive traits in both asexual and sexual organisms Read more