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Beyond Darwin: Niche Creation And Creative Evolution

2 Apr 2012, 17:16 UTC
Beyond Darwin: Niche Creation And Creative Evolution
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How does Darwin explain the swim bladder?

by Stuart Kauffman



There is a famous image from Darwin's thoughts. He likened evolution to a dirt floor filled with wooden wedges hammered into them. New species were new wedges hammered into a crowded floor, crowding out old wedge-species. The crowding captured the limitation of resources that drove natural selection. I think Darwin, who always stuns me, was nevertheless only partially right, and where wrong wonderfully wrong. In contrast to Darwin's wedge image, I think biological evolution is a far richer story of the creation without selection of ever new "adjacent possible" empty niches, (see below), that become filled by newly evolved species that create, without selection, yet more new empty adjacent possible niches, filled by yet more new species. This niche creation via the expanding Adjacent Possible expands Darwin's wedge filled floor with ever more wedges! Life keeps making more room for itself! Competition tempers this expansion. More, I think that, on average, each new species, alone or with others, creates more than one new empty Adjacent Possible niche, generating a self amplifying, "supracritical" explosion of ever new species occupying the ...

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