EVOLUTIO: A Research Center for Evolution and Development


All papers are free to download. However, if you like our work please consider becoming a Donor or a Patron using the options given below:


A Network Analysis of Early Arthropod Evolution and the Potential of the Primitive

It is often thought that the primitive is simpler, and that the complex is generated from the simple by some process of self-assembly or self-organization, which ultimately consists of the spontaneous and fortuitous collision of elementary units. This idea is included in the Darwinian theory of evolution, to which is added the competitive mechanism of natural selection. To test this view, we studied the early evolution of arthropods. Twelve groups of arthropods belonging to the Burgess Shale, Orsten Lagerstätte, and extant primitive groups were selected, their external morphology abstracted and codified in the language of network theory. The analysis of these networks through different network measures (network parameters, topological descriptors, complexity measures) was used to carry out a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and a Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA), which allowed us to obtain an evolutionary tree with distinctive/novel features. The analysis of centrality measures revealed that these measures decreased throughout the evolutionary process, and led to the creation of the concept of evolutionary developmental potential. This potential, which measures the capacity of a morphological unit to generate changes in its surroundings, is concomitantly reduced throughout the evolutionary process, and demonstrates that the primitive is not simple but has a potential that unfolds during this process. This means for us the first empirical evolutionary evidence of our theory of evolution as a process of unfolding.

A Network Analysis of Crab Metamorphosis and the Hypothesis of Development as a Process of Unfolding of an Intensive Complexity

Development has intrigued humanity since ancient times. Today, the main paradigm in developmental biology and evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) is the genetic program, in which development is explained by the interplay and interaction of genes, that is, by the action of gene regulatory networks (GRNs). However, it is not even clear that a GRN, no matter how complex, can be translated into a form. Therefore, the fundamental enigma of development still remains: how is a complex organism formed from a single cell? This question unfolded the historical drama and the dialectical tension between preformation and epigenesis. In order to shed light on these issues, I studied the development of crabs (infraorder Brachyura), as representative of the subphylum Crustacea, using network theory. The external morphology of the different phases of brachyuran metamorphosis were modeled as networks and their main characteristics analyzed. As one could expect, the parameters usually regarded as indicative of network complexity, such as modularity and hierarchy, increased during development. However, when more sophisticated complexity measures were tested, it was evidenced that whereas a group of complexity measures increased during development, another group decreased. This led to consider that two kinds of complexities were being measured. I called them intensive and extensive complexity. In view of these results, I propose that crab development involves a passage from an intensive to an extensive complexity. In other words, crab development can be interpreted as a process of unfolding of an intensive, preexistent complexity.

The Unfolding of a New Vision of Life, Cosmos and Evolution

Has science already answered the fundamental questions about the concepts of Life, Cosmos and Evolution? Has science not relegated these fundamental questions by following up on more immediate, “useful” and practical endeavors that ultimately ensure that the wheel of capitalism keeps spinning in its frantic search for material and economic progress? There is something terribly wrong with the current theory of evolution, understood as the Darwinian theory with its successive versions and extensions. The concept of natural selection, the cornerstone of Darwinism, is logically inconsistent. This has been demonstrated in some of my latest academic publications. The entire conceptual framework of Darwinism is inadequate. Organisms do not compete with each other for the survival of the fittest. The fundamental relationship in Nature is not competition or confrontation, but interconnectivity, complementarity, and relational meaningfulness. A new theory of evolution is necessary to explain how it is possible that organisms as simple as bacteria, protozoa and diatoms could have generated organisms as complex as primates, and among them, the human being, a being capable of feeling and thinking, of suffering and enjoying, a being capable of having ideals and purposes. A theory that explains how it is possible that this being so complex, rich, and to some extent still unknown, has emerged from a single cell, an egg-cell, lacking all the capacities, riches and depths of human existence. Such a theory already exists.

A Theory of Evolution as a Process of Unfolding

In this work I propose a theory of evolution as a process of unfolding. This theory is based on four logically concatenated principles. The principle of evolutionary order establishes that the more complex cannot be generated from the simpler. The principle of origin establishes that there must be a maximum complexity that originates the others by logical deduction. Finally, the principle of unfolding and the principle of actualization guarantee the development of the evolutionary process from the simplest to the most complex. These logical principles determine the existence of a virtual ideological matrix that contains the sequence of the preformed and folded morphogenetic fields. In this manner, the evolutionary process consists of the sequential unfolding and actualization of these fields, which is motorized by a process of teleologization carried out by the opening consciousness of the forms included in the fields of the ideological matrix. This theory leads to a radical change of perspective regarding the materialist worldview, and places life at the center of the evolutionary process as an activity carried out by a consciousness that seeks to fulfill a purpose by actualizing its own potentialities.

The Organism and its Umwelt: a Counterpoint between the Theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem

The topic of the relationship between the organism and its environment runs through the theories of Uexküll, Goldstein and Canguilhem with equal importance. In this work a counterpoint will be established between their theories, in the attempt to assess at which points the melodies are concordant and at which points they are discordant. As fundamental basis to his theory, Uexküll relies on the concept of conformity to a plan, which allows him to account for the congruity and perfect adjustment between organisms and their Umwelten. For Goldstein and Canguilhem, the relationship between an organism and its environment resembles instead a debate or coming to terms, in which the organism, as to ensure the continuity of the state of health, must constantly create norms to maintain a productive relationship with its environment. The pinpointing of these conceptual frameworks allows to lay emphasis on that each theory relies on specific assumptions regarding teleology and sense in organisms, as well as on specific definitions of the concept of life in general. Ultimately, the view that organisms and their environments have an original and common source, a principle, or plan, which must possess all the creative characteristics of life, will be seen as prevailing.

The Quest for a Holistic and Historical-Developmental Theory of the Organism

In this work the doctrine of organicism will be addressed, as explained and seen mainly by Bertalanffy. We will study how this doctrine represents and embodies the ambiguity of Kantian teleology as a regulative principle, and how this same problem leads to consider a real problem as a knowledge problem. It will be concluded that organicism, conceived in this way, does not represent a true holism, but what we will call a syn-holism, a synthesis or assembly, and that to obtain a true holism we must resort to the concept of true form. Finally, it will be established that since the fundamental characteristic of an organism is its development, a historical theory of the organism is required for which the concept of field can be useful and necessary.

What is It Like to be a Crab? A Complex Network Analysis of Eucaridan Evolution

Eucaridan evolution involved a process starting from a body organization characterized by an elongate and cylindrical cephalothorax, a well-developed abdomen composed of swimming appendages, ending in a tail fan formed by flattened uropods and a telson. This process would lead, ultimately, to a body organization characterized by a shortened and depressed cephalothorax, and a reduced and ventrally folded abdomen. This ultimate process is typically known as carcinization, and is commonly defined as the process of becoming a crab. In this work, the evolution of the superorder Eucarida was studied using complex networks. A new definition of crab and carcinization are given based on the results obtained. A crab is a topological structural closure that determines the formation of a triadic central core. The evolution of the crab implied the formation of a triadic structure with high closeness centrality, formed by the cephalon, the fused thoracomere 1–4 and the carapace, which represented a highly stable hierarchical core deeply buried or enclosed in the topological structure of the network, responsible for the generation of a highly integrated and robust topology. Under this new definition, the representative of the infraorder Anomura used in this work, which is commonly considered as a crab, is not. This network seemed to be characterized by the presence of a quasi-dyadic structure, formed by the cephalon and the carapace, which was not sufficient for generating the topological closure.

The Ideological Matrix of Science: Natural Selection and Immunity as Case Studies

The modern concept of ideology was established by the liberal politician and philosopher Destutt de Tracy, with the objective of creating an all-embracing and general science of ideas, which followed the sensualist and empiricist trend initiated by Locke that culminated in the positivism of Comte. Natural selection and immunity are two key concepts in the history of biology that were strongly based on the Malthusian concept of struggle for existence. This concept wrongly assumed that population grew faster than the means of existence. This “natural” law contained implicitly the idea that the poor and least gifted would not survive. This idea led to the progressive development of the concept of natural selection, whose definitive version was given by Darwin. Mechnikov took the concepts of struggle for existence and natural selection and conceived infectious diseases as a struggle between a host and its invader, the so-called phagocytosis theory. This theory created the necessity to possess mechanisms to discriminate between the own and the foreign, and led to the conception of the immune self. These concepts were not developed from ideas coming from perceptions or sensations, but from ideas coming from their values: individual interest, inevitable inequality, property, utility and profit. Values are ideals that constitute an ideological matrix which exerts a numinous activity and influence the development of our future actions. In consequence, science and its practice cannot avoid and ignore the values that drive them and impulse them towards certain directions.

The Evolution Concept: The Concept Evolution

This is an epistemologically-driven history of the concept of evolution. Starting from its inception, this work will follow the development of this pregnant concept. However, in contradistinction to previous attempts, the objective will not be the identification of the different meanings it adopted through history, but conversely, it will let the concept to be unfolded, to be explicated and to express its own inner potentialities. The underlying thesis of the present work is, therefore, that the path that leads to the development of the concept of evolution is the path that studies the possibilities of the evolution of concepts, and that the historical reconstruction of its conceptual trajectory will shed light into potential and unexploited possibilities. This methodology will provide useful tools and resources for future developments of the concept. For example, it will define the concept of transmutation as a different conceptual trajectory deviating from the one corresponding to evolution, at the onset of the 19th century. Moreover, epigenesis will not be the opposing concept to evolution, but only to simultaneous and instantaneous generation. It will demonstrate that every important system of epigenesis drew upon some kind of formative power to explain development. More importantly, it will show that the problem of preformation cannot be overlooked, and that some kind of virtual preformation must be considered in order to address the problems of generation and development.

Life: the Center of our Existence

Life is the center of our existence. One would be tempted to affirm that above all we live. However, our existence does not seem to take place in that modality. The exacerbated materialism in which our existence takes place, displaces life from the center of the scene. Our society is organized around production, consumerism, exploitation, efficiency, trade and propaganda. In other words, our existence seems to have economy as the center of organization of our activities. The struggle of this beginning century is to put life at the center of our existence, and to put economy in its proper place, that is, at the service of life.

On Novelty, Heterochrony and Developmental Constraints in a Complex Morphological Theory of Recapitulation: The Genus Trophon as a Case Study

Darwin proposed natural selection as the main evolutionary mechanism in 1859. However, he did not think that this was the only process by which new species were generated. It was the so-called Modern Synthesis who established natural selection as the only mechanism responsible for evolution. Since then, the evolutionary process is explained by the pair mutation-adaptation: new species are generated by the appearance of new mutations, which in case of allowing new adaptations to the environment, they will be fixed and organisms will survive, therefore resulting in new species. An alternative view to the plasticity promoted by the adaptationist program is to think organisms as truly organized structures, having different levels of structural organization, which would mean that not every form is possible, but only those that correspond to a certain building plan. This would be reflected in the appearance of structural constraints, showing the limits imposed to the organism during its evolutionary development. In this work, I studied the ontogeny and development of three species of the genus Trophon by geometric morphometrics, in order to clarify important concepts in evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo). Integrating theoretical and empirical investigations, I could propose a new conceptual framework for heterochrony in a context of a complex theory of recapitulation. Furthermore, I could detect a developmental constraint in Trophon, which provided an opportunity to reconstruct the concept of constraint and propose a synthesis between heterochrony and constraint that explained evolution as a process fueled by them, that is, as directive and driving force.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus Structural Protein E2 as a Complement Regulatory Protein

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a member of the genus Pestivirus, family Flaviviridae, and is one of the most widely distributed viruses in cattle worldwide. Approximately 60 % of cattle in endemic areas without control measures are infected with BVDV during their lifetime. This wide prevalence of BVDV in cattle populations results in significant economic losses. BVDV is capable of establishing persistent infections in its host due to its ability to infect fetuses, causing immune tolerance. However, this cannot explain how the virus evades the innate immune system. The objective of the present work was to test the potential activity of E2 as a complement regulatory protein. E2 glycoprotein, produced both in soluble and transmembrane forms in stable CHO-K1 cell lines, was able to reduce complement-mediated cell lysis up to 40 % and complement-mediated DNA fragmentation by 50 %, in comparison with cell lines not expressing the glycoprotein. This work provides the first evidence of E2 as a complement regulatory protein and, thus, the finding of a mechanism of immune evasion by BVDV. Furthermore, it is postulated that E2 acts as a self-associated molecular pattern (SAMP), enabling the virus to avoid being targeted by the immune system and to be recognized as self.

The Principle of Life: from Aristotelian Psyche to Drieschian Entelechy

Is life a simple result of a conjunction of physico-chemical processes? Can be reduced to a mere juxtaposition of spatially determined events? What epistemology or world-view allows us to comprehend it? Aristotle built a novel philosophical system in which nature is a dynamical totality which is in constant movement. Life is a manifestation of it, and is formed and governed by the psyche. Psyche is the organizational principle of the different biological levels: nutritive, perceptive and intelective. Driesch’s crucial experiment provided empirical proof of the principle of life, which he called entelechy. Entelechy is an intensive manifoldness and cannot be comprehended by the usual extensive parameters. The entelechian’s own ambiance is duration. This allows the reintroduction of the concept of teleology in the sphere of the living, understood not as a final cause, but as an order born from desire and leading to action.

Bravais Lattices

Auguste Bravais was born in Annonay (France) in 1811. Of predominantly mathematical training, Bravais applied it to the most diverse knowledge: astronomy, meteorology, magnetism, hydrography; for the most part, during his mission in the Navy to the northern coasts of Norway, between 1838 and 1839. The reading of Delafosse’s works (1843) produced a shift of Bravais’ interests towards the internal structure of the crystals. The consequence of this was the publication in 1848 of “Memory on the systems formed by points regularly distributed on a plane or in space”, in which he abstracted the structure of the crystal as a network system of nodes.

Bogdanov and the Theory of Two Sciences

What is the relation between science and ideology? Are they incompatible, complementary or the same thing? Should science avoid “contamination” from ideology? Is there an only way to do science? Does anyone of them lead to the same results and give us the same worldview? We will focus on the figure of Alexander Bogdanov, Russian physician and philosopher, in order to discuss these and other relevant topics. His theories gave birth to what may be called later “the theory of two sciences”, which entitles this work.

The Theory of Two Sciences: Bourgeois and Proletarian Science

What is the relation between science and ideology? Are they incompatible, complementary or the same thing? Should science avoid “contamination” from ideology? Is there an only way to do science? Does anyone of them lead to the same results and give us the same worldview? We will focus on the figure of Alexander Bogdanov, Russian physician and philosopher, in order to discuss these and other relevant topics. His theories gave birth to what may be called later “the theory of two sciences”, which entitles this work.

Life as Normative Activity and Self-realization: Debate surrounding the Concept of Biological Normativity in Goldstein and Canguilhem

The influence of Kurt Goldstein on the thinking of Georges Canguilhem extended throughout his entire work. This paper seeks to examine this relationship in order to conduct a study of the norm as a nexus or connection between the concept and life. Consequently, this work will be a reflection on the approach to life as a normative activity and self-realization. For this, it will be necessary to redefine the concepts of health and disease, and make a crossover between the two. At the end of this trajectory, it will be found that these concepts can explain the identity between the concept and life, which leads to the unexpected conclusion that the cure is ultimately self-healing.

The Umwelt of Uexküll and Merleau-Ponty

The organism against its environment. The organism against other organisms, competing and struggling for life. Antagonism and confrontment as the only possible relation in nature. The tendency to anthropomorphize nature and explain it using concepts and facts from the human sphere. A stroll through the worlds of Uexküll and Merleau-Ponty in the search of alternative knowledge that allow us to understand relation from another point of view. A counterpoint and identification of common tonalities between the research programs from both thinkers as a way to demonstrate the possibilities of a more fruitful approach. Umwelt as a generative system of meaningful relations in which its participants are not mutually exclusive, but express a melody that include them all.