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McGhee George | Fellow Visitor
2005-06-02 - 2005-08-24 | Research area: EvoDevo
Constraint Boundaries in the Evolution of Form
My primary research goal is to further develop the formal theoretical consideration of the evolutionary constraint concept that I first proposed at the 10th Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology, "Modeling Biology: Structures, Behaviors, Evolution". A major factor that has not yet been addressed in the theoretical characterization of evolutionary constraint is the variable of time: the potential range of evolutionary change in the positions of evolutionary constraint boundaries within form hyperspace with the passage of geologic time. The boundaries of geometric and functional constraint in form hyperspace are absolute and do not vary with time. That is, the laws of geometry and the physics of flying or swimming are the same today as they were 100 million years ago. This is not true of the intrinsic constraint boundaries. Both phylogenetic constraint boundaries and developmental constraint boundaries are intrinsic to the biology of specific organisms and, as organisms evolve with time, their intrinsic constraint boundaries may evolve as well. Evolutionary change in phylogenetic constraint boundaries is at the heart of the ongoing debate concerning the evolution of biological disparity with time. Developmental constraint boundaries must lie within phylogenetic constraint boundaries, but how far within? What are the theoretical expectations for evolutionary change in developmental constraint boundaries?