“LAMARCK was RIGHT as seen in the SILENT EPIGENETIC REVOLUTION IN EVOLUTION”
Dig-Press (contact Maria B. O’Hare)
New Paperback Book entitled: THE EPIGENETIC CATERPILLAR: AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE DARWINIAN VIEW OF THE PEPPERED MOTH PHENONMENON by MARIA B. O’HARE (PHD). ISBN: 978-1-78280-388-1 (Launch date: 20th December 2014) will be available from Amazon & all other major book sellers in paperback & e-book versions.
This little book of less than 80 pages, including fully researched scientific and historical bibliography, opens with the following quote under the heading of ‘A new synthesis is Dawning’ by a pre-eminent physiologist Professor Denis Noble:
“… all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproven. Moreover, they have been disproven in ways that raise the tantalising prospect of a totally new synthesis.”
This clearly demonstrates the need for such a publication & at the same time, the author of ‘The Epigenetic Caterpillar’ uses the quote to highlight one important aspect of this new synthesis, namely epigenetics (meaning beyond the genes) which in principle, essentially confirms the main tenets of an evolutionary theory dating to over 200 years ago by a famous French natural historian – Jean Baptiste Lamarck. O’Hare reveals how Charles Darwin was Lamarckian in his own ideas, and how he became increasingly so, as revealed in his own writings. To give the reader an idea of how radical this silent epigenetic revolution in evolution actually is, the author presents this quantum-like concept through the analogy of what she calls an epigenetic caterpillar, and uses it to conceptualise an alternative version of evolution and to specifically address industrial melanism of peppered moths – a famous text-book case of what has often been described as: “Darwinian evolution via selection in action” to counter this claim. Her argument is that the caterpillar has exactly the same genes as its adult form – a butterfly/moth, and yet: “looks nothing like a flying insect”. O’Hare goes on to explain using empirical studies that the dramatically different characters and traits displayed within the same insect depending on which form it is in its development (via metamorphosis), is fully explicable by environmentally-driven/epigenetic means (differential expression of the same genes in response to environmental changes). The author does not profess to be an expert in biology, but as a researcher with credentials in archaeology, and a life-time of diverse experiences, she brings a unique and enlightening perspective to this somewhat controversial evolutionary topic. Maria O’Hare lives in Spiddal, Galway, Ireland, with her son and partner.
See the table of contents & Prologue for the book below as sample:
Table of Contents
A NEW SYNTHESIS IS DAWNING – 1 –
THE EPIGENETIC CATERPILLAR – 5 –
LAMARCKIAN EVOLUTIONARY PRINCIPLES EQUAL EPIGENETIC EVOLUTION – 13 –
THE EPIGENETIC CATERPILLAR & THE PEPPERED MOTH SAGA – 21 –
AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF THE PEPPERED MOTH PHENOMENON – 29 –
THE EPIGENETIC CATERPILLAR GOES QUANTUM – 43 –
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – 53 –
RECOMMENDED VIDEOS & FURTHER READING RELATING TO RESEARCH – 55 –
OTHER PUBLICATIONS BY THE AUTHOR – 59 –
BIBLIOGRAPHY – 63 –
END NOTES – 69 –
I am delighted that you discovered this little book, but to be perfectly honest, I must tell you from the outset that my ‘formal qualifications’ for writing about epigenetics amount to zilch, other than that I have immersed myself deeply in the topic ever since I began to fathom its significance for our current view of evolution. Even my qualifications for writing about caterpillars are pretty sparse and I can’t say that Peppered Moths are my specialty either. I’m a research archaeologist, but I should say that I was once warned that there was no future in archaeology, and that is perhaps why I found my skills being put to other uses and ended up researching this fascinating topic instead.
The Epigenetic Caterpillar, as suggested in the main title of this book, is used to help conceptualise an alternative version of evolution and to specifically address industrial melanism of peppered moths – a famous text-book case of what has often been described as: “Darwinian evolution via natural selection in action”. It would appear, now having thoroughly researched this topic in great depth using the most up-to-date scientific literature, that the Neo-Darwinian explanation of colour change in moths cannot have been caused by genetic variation (inherited beneficial or neutral mutations), but by how the genes are expressed, which does not change the DNA sequence (code) itself. In other words, species change and variation is via environmentally-driven EPIGENETIC processes.
Therefore, I have used the epigenetic caterpillar as an example because a caterpillar has exactly the same genes as its adult form – a butterfly/moth, and yet it looks nothing like a flying insect. The dramatically different characters and traits displayed within the same insect depending on which form it takes during development (stage of metamorphosis), is fully explicable by environmental/epigenetic means (differential expression of the same genes at different times/seasons and during the evolutionary past). The same genes in the same insect or similar genes in the same species, cannot account for this drastic variation of form. Genes are actually relatively conservative and fixed within a given species, whereas, how they are expressed is a highly flexible adaptive mechanism used by all species. As the wealth of studies, which are emerging increasingly, are unequivocally demonstrating, epigenetic processes can change gene expression, causing variation in species traits and characters and these variations and adaptations can be inherited. Thus, this has major implications for our current genetically-driven version of evolutionary change.
As I was saying, being an archaeologist, I do love to dig things up and discover and/or rediscover lost and obscured historical knowledge. This all led to this little booklet amongst other publications in various stages of production. You see, not that long ago, when I was digging through the old dusty archives, well they are not so dusty admittedly these days as they are mainly on the internet – thanks be to goodness for it, I stumbled upon the fact that our more recent understanding of molecular epigenetic type evolution was not so new in their underlying principles.
These concepts had been around before Darwin was even born and had evolved to become real scientific alternatives to what has now become our current doctrine of evolutionary thought. I further discovered that there were reasons why these somewhat revolutionary ideas, now being confirmed by our most recent molecular biological investigations, did not make it through the 20th and into the 21st century. It is a complex history, intertwined in ideological and philosophical intrigue, which makes it all the more strange when you come to realise, as I eventually did, that Darwin himself was not adverse to some of these rather radically different views of evolution which became so heavily marginalised by the very movement that holds him in such high esteem.
Consequently, you may not be fully aware of the significance of the epigenetic revolution going on in evolutionary biology and the full gravity of its implications for our current model of evolution. Therefore I would like to present the epigenetic principle in such a way that its full significance can be grasped. That is why I refer to it as the silent biological revolution, because most of us are unaware of it happening at all, or if we are aware, we don’t generally get its deeper implications. I only aim to share what I have discovered so that it might stimulate some constructive debate in the light of these facts. I do hope you enjoy the brief journey and this little book may stimulate your own participation in this philosophical discussion and positive change that evolutionary biology needs at this time.
Cheers, Maria Brigit