Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We're a work in progress...

Carl Zimmer has an excellent post today on George Williams, a little known evolutionary biologist who made some important additions to our understanding of the mechanisms of natural selection.
Many scientists believed, for example, that natural selection often produced adaptations that benefited entire groups.Why did animals get old and die, for example? Why didn’t animals just keep humming along until they were killed by a predator or a pathogen? Death had to be good for something, and one popular idea was that death benefited entire groups of animals. By dying, older individuals stepped out of the way for younger ones.

One day, Williams heard this idea for the umpteenth time,during a lecture by a renowned ecologist named A.E. Emerson. “My reaction was that if Emerson’s presentation was acceptable biology, I would prefer another calling,” he later wrote.

Check out the post for more.

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