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First published 20 July 2015

Non-random random mutations: a signature of evolution of evolution (EVOEVO)

Paulien Hogeweg

Abstract (Excerpt)

What has evolved in the ca 3.5 billion years of biological evolution on earth? A first answer which may spring to mind is your favorite organism, be it elephant, fly, slime mold, microbe or man. Other answers might be the stunning apparent diversity of lifeforms, or the greatly enhanced energy cycling at the earth surface. Or all this may be simplified to characterizing what has evolved as “complexity.” The latter answer is often pursued within artificial life and is indeed possibly the easiest to study because the most abstract and least well defined, but certainly not trivial as the basic mechanism of Darwinian evolution leads to adaptation but not necessarily to complexity.

Beslon et al (evoevo-project recently posed an other answer for the above question, namely that what has evolved is evolution itself, a perspective which is now pursued under the name EVOEVO. When we study in vivo or in vitro evolution of extant organisms, it is this evolved evolution that we observe. This in contrast to in silico evolution where we most often observe the course of evolution from random initial conditions.