Stages in the development of evolutionary biology

Evolutionary theory based on Darwin’s texts, elaborated at approximately the beginning of the 1920s, is generally called Darwinism or Classical Darwinism. The theory of evolution that was formed by incorporation of knowledge of genetics into the Classical Darwinist theory is termed Neodarwinism. Neodarwinists primarily understand evolution as a change in the representation of the individual alleles in the gene pool of the population and attempt to explain all evolutionary processes occurring at the level within and between species on the basis of this process. Consequently, for this reason, chapters devoted to population genetics – learning about the development of the genetic composition of the population – take up considerable space in textbooks of evolutionary biology. For most biologists, we are still living in the era of Neodarwinism. According to others, especially the work of S.J. Gould, who sharply differentiate between microevolutionary processes, occurring at the level of populations and species, and macroevolutionary processes, occurring above the level of species, and the gene-centred models of evolution following from the work of W.D. Hamilton, see Chapter 8, a new era in evolutionary biology has already begun. With my characteristic malice, I would like to introduce the term Postneodarwinism for this approach (and I look forward to seeing how my successors will manage to find a name for the next era of evolutionary biology).

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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