Re: Shapiro versus ID

Tim Ikeda (
Wed, 09 Sep 1998 21:45:53 -0400

In line with Howard Van Till's thoughts, I'd like to point out a
recent perspective paper publish in PNAS titled: "Evolvability".
It's by Mark Kirschner and John Gerhart (PNAS Jul 98, 95:8420-27)

I'll include the abstract here in case anyone is interested.
This is typed by hand -- all mistakes mine...

ABS: Evolvability is an organism' capacity to generate heritable
phenotypic variation. Metazoan evolution is marked by great
morphological and physiological diversification, although the
core genetic, cell biological, and developmental processes are
largely conserved. Metazoan diversity has entailed the evolution
of various regulatory processes controlling the time, place and
conditions of use of the conserved core processes. These regulatory
processes, and certain of the core processes, have special
properties relevant to evolutionary change. The properties of
versatile protein elements, weak linkage, compartmentation,
redundancy, and exploratory behavior reduce the interdependence
of components and confer robustness and flexibility on processes
during embryonic development and in adult physiology. They also
confer evolvability on the organism by reducing constraints
on change and allowing the accumulation of nonlethal variation.
Evolvability may have generally been selected in the course of
selection for robust, flexible processes suitable for complex
development and physiology and specifically selected in lineages
undergoing repeated radiations.

The abstract could have been better written but I thought the paper
provided an interesting perspective, and one possibly in line with
Shapiro's thoughts (With the difference that these authors managed
to fire off fewer wild pitches).

Tim Ikeda ( -- despam address before use