Biology has evolved dramatically in recent years in terms of techniques and technologies, generating a flood of highly detailed empirical data. However, the integration of these results into the theoretical building of Biology has lagged behind, in many cases failing the recognition and the understanding of its implications. Since Darwin, natural selection is seen as the primary cause of evolution. During the 20th century, Darwinists have formalized natural selection in a theoretical structure – called Modern Synthesis – that included Mendelian genetics and statistics, and defined it as differential survival and reproduction. At a time prior to the molecular and omics sciences, these were the universal causes of evolution by definition. However, new conceptual approaches have arisen to fill the gaps in our understanding of some of the major driving forces capable to produce emergent novelties that cause evolution. Bringing bacteria and virus into evolutionary framework, as well as importing concepts from developmental biology, ecology, epigenetics, hybridogenesis, and symbiogenesis, has entailed new insights on evolution and emergence of new species.
The series of conferences “Rethinking Biology and Evolution: new approaches to the new century” is organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon. It aims to explore the epistemological implications of these new evolutionary theories to biology, especially to the concept of evolution.
Darwins's surprise - Why are evolutionary biologists bringing back extinct deadly viruses? by Michael Specter, The New Yorker.
Viruses and the evolution of life. L. Villarreal, Washington DC: American Society of Microbiology Press, 2005.
Origin of Group Identity: Viruses, Addiction and Cooperation. L. Villarreal, New YorK: Springer, 2008.