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Evolution. 2009 Oct;63(10):2487-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00799.x. Epub 2009 Jul 30.

Adaptionism-30 years after Gould and Lewontin.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Kbh Ø, Denmark.


Gould and Lewontin's 30-year-old critique of adaptionism fundamentally changed the discourse of evolutionary biology. However, with the influx of new ideas and scientific traditions from genomics into evolutionary biology, the old adaptionist controversies are being recycled in a new context. The insight gained by evolutionary biologists, that functional differences cannot be equated to adaptive changes, has at times not been appreciated by the genomics community. In this comment, I argue that even in the presence of both functional data and evidence for selection from DNA sequence data, it is still difficult to construct strong arguments in favor of adaptation. However, despite the difficulties in establishing scientific arguments in favor of specific historic evolutionary events, there is still much to learn about evolution from genomic data.

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