Project News

May 5
Inherency and agency in the origin and evolution of biological functions

Stuart Newman’s latest pre-print, “Inherency and agency in the origin and evolution of biological functions,” is now available online in the PhilSci-Archive. He writes, “I review work showing that organisms like the placozoans can thrive with almost no functional embellishments beyond those of their constituent cells and physical properties of their simple tissues. I also discuss work showing that individual tissue cells and their artificial aggregates exhibit agential behaviours that are unprecedented in the histories of their respective lineages.” Professor Newman is PI of the “Cellular agency in multicellular development and cancer” project.

ASSOCIATED PROJECTS
May 3
What’s love got to do with it? From ‘survival of the fittest’ to compassionate connection

This new, online, four-week course taught by Richard Watson, associate Professor in artificial intelligence and theoretical evolutionary biology at the University of Southampton, UK, begins Tuesday 17 May 2022.

“A new explanatory framework for creative adaptation in biological systems is emerging. A society based on such principles would value compassionate connection – vulnerability that allows ourselves to be changed by our relationships with others, forming connections that give us meaning that is greater than ourselves. A word people sometimes use as a shorthand to describe that type of interaction is love.”

The course meets for two hours each Tuesday and uses a scientific foundation “to unify opposing worldviews and support a more harmonious and compassionate way of life for individuals, the global community and the biosphere.” More information, including a short video introduction to the course, is available online here, and registration is here.  

ASSOCIATED PROJECTS
April 29
Characterisation and cross-amplification of sex-specific genetic markers in Australasian Egerniinae lizards and their implications for understanding the evolution of sex determination and social complexity

Tobias Uller, PI of the "Evolution and organismal goal-directedness" project, is one of the authors of “Characterisation and cross-amplification of sex-specific genetic markers in Australasian Egerniinae lizards and their implications for understanding the evolution of sex determination and social complexity” published in the Australian Journal of Zoology. The authors write that the work “opens up a range of potential research questions related to the role that sex plays in the mediation of social behaviour and, through this, the emergence and stability of social life.”

ASSOCIATED PROJECTS
April 28
Cultural consensus and intracultural diversity in ethnotaxonomy: lessons from a fishing community in Northeast Brazil

Three members of the “An organizational account of ecological functions” project, Paride Bollettin, David Ludwig and Charbel N. El-Hani, contributed to the Open Access article “Cultural consensus and intracultural diversity in ethnotaxonomy: lessons from a fishing community in Northeast Brazil.” The article was published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.

ASSOCIATED PROJECTS
April 26
Increasing morphological disparity and decreasing optimality for jaw speed and strength during the radiation of jawed vertebrates

Phil Donoghue, PI of the Chance versus purpose in the evolution of biospheres project, is one of the authors of "Increasing morphological disparity and decreasing optimality for jaw speed and strength during the radiation of jawed vertebrates" in Science Advances. The authors "quantified the variety of form in the earliest jaws in the fossil record from which we generated a theoretical morphospace that we then tested for functional optimality."

ASSOCIATED PROJECTS