Biological Theory

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 156–166 | Cite as

EvoDevo as a Motley Aggregation: Local Integration and Conflicting Views of Genes During the 1980s

  • Yoshinari YoshidaEmail author
  • Hisashi Nakao
Original Article


Although there are many historical and philosophical analyses of evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo), its development in the 1980s, when many individual or collective attempts to synthesize evolution and development were made, has not been examined in detail. This article focuses on some interdisciplinary studies during the 1980s and argues that they had important characteristics that previous historical and philosophical work has not recognized. First, we clarify how each set of studies from the 1980s integrated the results or approaches from different biological fields, such as paleontology, developmental genetics, comparative morphology, experimental embryology, theoretical developmental biology, and population genetics. Second, after close examination we show that the interdisciplinary studies during the 1980s adopted different and conflicting views of genes, such as developmental-genetic, epigenetic, or population-genetic ones. We conclude that EvoDevo in the 1980s was a motley aggregation of various kinds of local integration. Finally, we discuss the implications of our analysis by comparing these early EvoDevo studies with those of the Modern Synthesis and with the present state of EvoDevo.


Biological fields Evolutionary developmental biology (EvoDevo) Integration Synthesis 



Comments given by Rueylin Chen, Lindley Darden, Tetsuji Iseda, and Alan Love have been a great help in writing the manuscript. We are very grateful to Werner Callebaut for giving useful advice to us and so sorry to hear of his sudden passing.


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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Graduate School of LettersKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.School of Advanced StudiesThe Graduate University for Advanced StudiesKanagawaJapan

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