By Lynn Margulis
From one of many nice iconoclasts of recent biology, Lynn Margulis, a groundbreaking new concept of the origins of species
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Extra info for Acquiring Genomes. A Theory of the Origin of Species
Mutations, in summary, tend to induce sickness, death, or deficiencies. No evidence in the vast literature of heredity change shows unambiguous evidence that random mutation itself, even with geographical isolation of populations, leads to speciation. Then how do new species come into being? How do cauliflowers descend from tiny, wild Mediterranean cabbagelike plants, or pigs from wild boars? Darwin’s successors have returned to the rugged volcanic island of the Galapagos, off the coast of Ecuador, to watch evolution in action.
Scandens. The other seven species divide into three groups: those who live in the trees on fruits and insects; strict vegetarians of the trees; and tree-dwellers who embody “convergent evolution”—they sing, act, and feed so much like warblers that they were at first taken to be warblers. Since 1978, the Grants have camped on Genovese Island, by a sharkless, leechless lagoon named after Darwin. There they have measured songs, legs, eggs, and beaks of finches. All the islands of the Galapagos archipelago suffered the ultimate drought in 1977.
A gene alone is only a piece of DNA long enough to have a function. The gene by itself can be flushed down the sink; even if preserved in a freezer or a salt solution the isolated gene has no activity whatsoever. There is no life in a gene. There is no self. A gene never fits the minimal criterion of self, of a living system. The time has come in serious biology to abandon words like competition, cooperation, and selfish genes and replace them with meaningful terms such as metabolic modes (chemoautotrophy, photosynthesis), ecological relations (epibiont, pollinator), and measurable quantities (light, heat, mechanical force).
Acquiring Genomes. A Theory of the Origin of Species by Lynn Margulis