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An Evo-Devo Perspective on Analogy in Biology

Department of Biology, University of Padova, Via Ugo Bassi 58 B, I 35131 Padova, Italy
Philosophies 2019, 4(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4010005
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Philosophies on Analogy)
To explain the amazing morphological and biomechanical analogy between two distantly related vertebrates as are a dolphin and a shark, an explanation exclusively framed in terms of adaptation (i.e., in terms of the Darwinian survival of the fittest) is far from satisfactory. The same is true, of course, of any other comparison between structurally similar, but phylogenetically unrelated organisms. A purely evolutionary argument does not throw any light on how the developmental processes of their ancestors could eventually evolve in such a way as to eventually produce these peculiar phenotypes (the arrival of the fittest). How does Nature play with animal and plant form? To address the issue of the evolution of possible forms, we cannot ignore that these are products of development. This invites adopting the integrated perspective, currently known as evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. Paths through the maze of living forms are not satisfactorily explained in terms of pure geometrical transformations or of the adaptive value of the phenotypes eventually produced. The emergence of form is largely dependent on the intrinsic evolvability of the developmental processes that translate the genotype into phenotypes. As a consequence, development makes analogous structures more likely to evolve than a pure adaptationist argument would ever suggest. View Full-Text
Keywords: analogy; comparative biology; evolutionary developmental biology; evolvability; genotype; homology; phenotype analogy; comparative biology; evolutionary developmental biology; evolvability; genotype; homology; phenotype
MDPI and ACS Style

Minelli, A. An Evo-Devo Perspective on Analogy in Biology. Philosophies 2019, 4, 5.

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