Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 119–128 | Cite as

Prebiotic world, macroevolution, and Darwin’s theory: a new insight

  • Luis BotoEmail author
  • Ignacio Doadrio
  • Rui Diogo


Darwin’s main contribution to modern biology was to make clear that all history of life on earth is dominated by a simple principle, which is usually summarised as 'descent with modification'. However, interpretations about how this modification is produced have been controversial. In light of the data provided by recent studies on molecular biology, developmental biology, genomics, and other biological disciplines we discuss, in this paper, how Darwin's theory may apply to two main 'types' of evolution: that occurring in the prebiotic world and that regarding the acquisition of major key-innovations differentiating higher-taxa, which makes up part of the so-called macroevolution. We argue that these studies show that evolution is a fascinating, complex and multifaceted process, with different mechanisms drivin it on different occasions and in different places.


Darwin Evolution Key-innovations Macroevolution Prebiotic world 



This paper is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Pere Alberch. We specially acknowledge A. García Valdecasas, N. Lonergan, Kim Sterelny, and an anonymous referee for the improvement of this manuscript, as well as F. Meunier, D. Adriaens, M. de Pinna, P. Skelton, F. Poyato-Ariza, T. Grande, H. Gebhardt, M. Ebach, A. Wyss, J. Waters, G. Cuny, L. Cavin, F. Santini, J. Briggs, L. Gahagan, M. Gayet, J. Alves-Gomes, G. Lecointre, L. Soares-Porto, P. Bockmann, T. Roberts, G. Arratia, L. Taverne, C. Ferraris, C. Borden, E. Parmentier, P. Vandewalle, M. Chardon, B. Richmond, B. Wood, B. Hall and F. Galis and many other colleagues for their helpful advice and assistance and for their discussions on evolution.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento Biodiversidad y Biologia EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyGeorge Washington University WashingtonUSA

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