Conceptual issues in the reunion of development and evolution

Synthese 91 (1-2):93 - 110 (1992)
Recently a growing number of biologists have begun to consider the causal role that processes of embryonic development may play in evolution. This constitutes a reunion of these phenomena which had been linked in the nineteenth century through Haeckel's biogenetic law. This reunion may result in a new subdiscipline of biology, if there is a set of unique concepts and methods which tie the various research approaches together. Such concepts as bauplan, canalization, and developmental constraint, may serve in such a capacity. The methods employed must combine comparative and experimental analyses, with special attention paid to the range of variation in developmental events within each taxon. These concepts and methods are also applicable to the problem of how development evolved, thus the evolution of development may also be considered part of the reunion. The reunion is discussed in terms of the potential participation of various schools of thought found in the current literature.
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