Biological Dogmas in Relation to the Origin of Evolutionary Novelties

  • Patricia Tatemoto
  • Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna


Current evolutionary knowledge emerges influenced by two main currents of thinking. While some call for more variables to be considered in evolution, others consider that evolutionary outcomes are mainly associated with the genomic component. In spite of each individual point of view, however, current knowledge from many biological disciplines is constantly telling us of new advancements in biological processes. The aim of the present book chapter is to evaluate what historically in evolutionary thinking has been assumed as true and what is currently being contested by current biological knowledge. Importantly, no matter what the current knowledge about these topics is, they are still assumed as true in evolutionary thinking, making them factual dogmas. In the present chapter we describe and discuss three ‘evolutionary dogmas’, present in scientific and/or pedagogical writing, for which we think that there is plenty of biological evidence demonstrating the contrary: (i) ‘Natural selection is the main/only guiding force in evolution’; (ii) ‘Evolution proceeds driven by what is beneficial’; (iii) ‘Lamarck was wrong about environmental effects and heritability’. Many of our arguments are based on recent epigenetic knowledge showing that epigenetic mechanism can on one hand induce genomic changes, and on the other hand respond to environmental factors. Through epigenetic mechanisms, the environment is able to modulate individual phenotypes even before conception, with consequences that can transcend generations. We propose that recent epigenetic knowledge can help to change some of these described dogmas to advance scientific knowledge in evolution.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Avian Behavioural Genomics and Physiology GroupIFM, Linköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.FMVZ, Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal ScienceCenter for Comparative Studies in Sustainability, Health and Welfare, University of São Paulo - USP - São Paulo StatePirassunungaBrazil

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