Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Jul 27;366(1574):2124-40.

At Babels Dawn, a rather precise comment on how genes work needs to be adjusted to new knowledge on the organization of the genome: networks rather that beads in a rosary:  “Evo-devo, deep homology and FoxP2: implications for the evolution of speech and language” Scharff C, Petri J. Reference: in the title. I do foresee more oservations along these lines will finally nail the coffin of the selfish gene, the most pernicious idea in recent evolutionary biology, embraced by most of the status quo:

Blair Bolles:  “Another term used in the paper is “deep homology,” and it too refers to a concept not present in the Mendelian view of evolution. The old view was that genetic changes have to make use of the “beads” provided by our immediate ancestor, the last common ancestor of us and chimpanzees. And surely our recent ancestors’ genes must be important, but they are no longer exclusive to the story. Proof of this theoretical change’s relevance to the origin of language is the news that our FOXP2 gene has a homolog in the songbird genome and performs a similar function. The authors write”:

 “we argue that the FoxP2 transcription factor and the regulatory molecular network that it interacts with may be part of a molecular toolkit that is essential for sensory-guided motor learning in cortical-striatal and cortical-cerebellar circuits in humans, mice, and songbirds and maybe even invertebrates.” The idea that humans are in some ways genetically more like songbirds than apes still seems mighty bold, but it makes perfect sense if you think of the process of evolution as a spreading of the network of life rather than a marathon race in which individual species carry a baton while trying to avoid oblivion. This kind of relationship between birds and humans is perfectly in keeping with the finding that all eyes, no matter how they are formed or function, are all dependent on the same transcription factor (Pax6). Previously, it was considered self-evident that vision had evolved independently many times. The idea that they are related through a deep genomic relationship caught everyone by surprise”


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