The Evolution of Generic Forms

  • Brian C. Goodwin
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 130)


It is now widely accepted that if there are generative laws that operate during the development of organisms, then their morphologies will be constrained so that certain forms are possible and other are not. A possible consequence of this is that the hierarchical taxonomies of organisms arise not from dichotomous branching due to the historical winnowing process of natural selection, producing a discrete spectrum from an initial continuum, but from the intrinsic discontinuities that separate natural kinds generated by dynamical laws. If this is the case, then biological taxonomy has a basis not in the contingencies of history, but in the rational dynamics of biological organization. Such an eventuality would mean that Linnaeus was in a sense closer to the truth than Darwin, whose views on taxonomy were clearly expressed in such statements as “Our classifications will come to be, as far as they can be so made, genealogies; and will then truly give what may be called the plan of creation.” It is now possible to construct such genealogies on the basis of, for example, the similarities and differences of genomic DNA sequences in different species. But such genealogies do not reveal the plan of creation.


Bilateral Symmetry Morphogenetic Field Metabolic Sequence Biological Pattern Formation Biological Taxonomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ancel, P. and Vinterberger: 1948, Bull. Biol. Fr. Belg. 31,1–182.Google Scholar
  2. Batchelor, G. K.: 1967, An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Goodwin, B. C. and Trainor, L. E. H.: 1980, ‘A field description of the cleveage process in embryogenesis’, J. Theoret. Biol. 85, 757–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Goodwin, B. C.: 1982, ‘Development and Evolution’, J. Theoret. Biol. 97, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodwin, B. C.: 1985, ‘What are the causes of morphogenesis?’, Bioessays 3, 32–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goodwin, B. C.: 1989, ‘A structuralist research programme in developmental biology’, in: Dynamical structures in Biology, B. C. Goodwin and A. Shibatani, G. Webster (eds), Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Goodwin, B. C. and Kauffman, S. A.: 1990, ‘Spatial harmonics and pattern specification in early Drosophila development. Part I. Bifurcation sequences and gene expression’, J. Theoret. Biol. 144, 303–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ho, M. W., Matheson, A., Sauderns, P. T., Goodwin, B. C. and Smallcome, A.: 1987, ‘Ether-induced segmentation defects in Drosophila’, Roux’s Archive for Developmental Biology (submitted).Google Scholar
  9. Hunding, A.: 1984, ‘Bifurcations of non-linear reaction-difussion systems in oblate spheroids’, J. Math. Biol. 19, 249–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kauffman, S. A. and Goodwin, B. C.: 1990, ‘Spatial harmonics and pattern specification in early Drosophila development. Part II. The four colour wheel model’, J. Theoret. Biol. 144, 321–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kauffman, S. and Levin, S.: 1987, ‘Towards a general theory of fitness on rugged landscapes’, J. Theoret. Biol. 128, 11–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Meinhardt, H.: 1982, Models of Biological Pattern Formation, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  13. Murray, J. D.: 1977, Non-Linear Differential Equation Models of Biological Systems, Orford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Scharf, S. R. and Gerhart, J. C.: 1980, ‘Determination of the dorso-ventral axis in eggs of Xenopus laevis: Complete rescue of UV-impaired eggs by oblique orientation before first cleavage’, Dev. Biol. 79, 181–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Thompson, D’Arcy W.: 1919, On Growth and Form, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Turing, A. M.: 1952, ‘The chemical basis of morphogenesis’, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 237, 37–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wolpert, L.: 1971, ‘Positional information and pattern formation’, Curr Top. Devel. Biol. 6, 183–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Weir, M. P. and Kornberg, T.: 1985, ‘Patterns of fushi tarazu transcripts reveal novel intermediate stages in Drosophila segmentation’, Nature 318, 433–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian C. Goodwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe Open UniversityUK

Personalised recommendations