A New Model of Evolution
Evolution over short genetic distances mostly involves simple, easy-to-alter changes of phenotypes. But over large time scales and genetic distances, new materials and body plans accumulate, which are harder to evolve. Only evolution of new, hard-to-accumulate traits produces effects that are often not apparent over the shorter distances. The new model explains these effects in ways that can better account for major changes in evolution, such as the origins of new species and phyla, the origin of major novelties such as sex, plus the causes of human evolution and behavior.
This site is to popularize the new approach, and invite suggestions or corrections for improving the model.
My book is published!!!
At last, my book has now been published! You should be able to get it on Amazon by clicking the icon. Or see the home page at;
However, the important items on this site arefree, including the crucial essays that explain the Theory of Options. Please browse through the site. If you have any problems, contact me by email at; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: my book is about the evolution of human behavior, but about 20% of it concerns evolution. It was while working on my book that I came up with the new model described here. All the web pages here are not part of my book directly, and are freely available, but some details might be out of date. The web siteequation or the PDF file at model show the most difficult and controversial chapter in the book, though this one chapter is quite technical. The rest is the original site, before the book was published.
Want to join Darwin's Web Ring?
1. This is a Darwinian web-site, differing in details, but upholding evolution. This site is to invite comments from people knowledgeable about evolution. For general debate on evolution visit refer to"The Talk-Origins" or related web-sites.
2. There is now aQuotations Page which people might find interesting.
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Where to Next?
I am "new" to evolution. Can you explain what this is about?
Processes of evolution such as mutation or selection act continuously, but the fossil record indicates that many large changes were discontinuous or "stepped".
I understand the issues, but why would some traits be easy, but others hard to evolve?
The asymmetry exists in pre-biotic properties of the universe. These are inherited into early life as basic properties of life, and complex life in turn inherits these as fitness constraints and pathways.
You claim that hard-to-alter traits saturate, but how could this work?
All organisms compose of both easy and hard to alter traits. Easy-to-alter traits are continuously variable, and never saturate, so the relative variation of organisms never saturates. But hard-to-alter traits, the base homologies of organisms, often evolve once only at a fitness cost. Within a given system this closes the fitness path by which these homologies could evolve again. (Only nothing is final. Life could be wiped out and start over, so even DNA could evolve again.)
But why are not all traits encoded in DNA easy to evolve?
DNA encodes many attributes. Some, like polygenic traits or allele combinations, or unexpressed sequences, can change easily once per generation. But DNA sequences expressing the basic homologies of life are hard to evolve, and held in tight fitness trajectories throughout most life.
How does the new theory explain sex, evolution of phyla, or human evolution?
The new theory provides a logical model. Details (facts) must come from research. But it is easier to visualize large-scale changes with the new model, which offers some original hypotheses.
So, why has no one thought of all this before?
It was always known that traits would easier than others to evolve, but to appreciate the full impact of this involves several unfamiliar ("queerer than we can suppose") concepts, which must be worked out first.
Models of large-scale changes in evolution have been difficult to develop in detail. Most large changes (such as evolution of new phyla or classes) were in the past, and cannot be observed as living evolution. Plus many large ecological effects (such as an asteroid strike, climate change, or making or breaking a land bridge) occur randomly and cannot be modeled. Even so, we assume that as a basic model, over time small changes summate into larger ones.
Yet, the summation of small accumulations into large ones over time is not always a linear. There are several (now much debated) reasons for this.
Onto these four known mechanisms of stepped increases of complexity, the new theory considers a fifth effect. This is that in life and the universe, some properties are easier to alter than others.
Now there are numerous examples, in life and the universe, of why some properties are easier to alter than others, so this is well known. But the significance of it, often overlooked, is that this will provide a very strong "directional" bias to gene flow. We like to think that once traits are encoded in DNA, because DNA can alter easily, adaptation of traits is equally likely in any direction. But what we find is that genes expressing the basic homologies of life are held in very tight fitness trajectories. While it is only genes that express variable, homoplastic traits, (or non-expressed DNA) that alter frequently and without directional bias. However, this further bias to gene flow will also give a stepped effect to large-scale changes, and a very powerful one. Roughly, organisms will always attempt to adapt the easy-to-alter attributes first. (Organisms say, will always alter DNA sequence, rather than evolve a new code). So, only after all the easy-to-enact changes have saturated for a given level of complexity, would new, hard-to-alter traits be forced to evolve. We can show (with some qualifications) that this is a pattern of all evolution.
Yet, this tendency of traits to be either easy of hard to alter is not the sole cause of stepped patterns to large-scale evolution, but it does provide a simple and elegant model of it.
The remainder of this site will explain how the new model works.
Use search engine to navigate entire site, including articles on human evolution and behavior.
Full Index of Essays
Note: PDF versions of these files can be provided on request.
1.0 The Theory of Large Changes 2.0 The Theory of Complex Accumulations
3.0 The "Peripheral Niche" Mechanism 4.0 The Theory of Phylogenic Evolution
5.0 The "Smart Gene" Hypothesis 6.0 A 'Two-Axis' Model of Evolution
Large Scale Changes Use of Terms Primitive Life Stepped Changes "Behavior First" Complex Time
Also The Evolution Page
Return to "Theory of Options"
Valid criticism of the "New Model of Evolution" is always most welcome. Especially valuable;
Often I am asked about my research background. This is only a philosophical treatise. I am depending on feedback (from readers) for any criticism about items that are unclear or need further clarification. You can contact me directly by e-mail to seek further information.
mailto:email@example.com (This is my private mail.) Or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org (This is a work address, so please restrict correspondence to important matters only.)
To find out more about me, you can visit my personal page.
Revised: 28 Dec 2000