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June 20, 2007

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Nato

We've actually known about a number of environmental feedback mechanisms for a while now (though primarily in single-celled organisms in which such things were much easier to study), and nothing here is particularly revolutionary. Yes, they're finding that dynamics noted in protists also potentially apply to gametic functions in animals, but this has been a topic of speculation for 20 years or more; we're just starting to achieve the requisite sophistication where speculation gives way to testable hypothesis.

Now, what *would* be astonishing is if these feedback mechanisms are "smart" in that they are responsive in detailed ways. More mutations in gametes created in the presence of stress hormones wouldn't be very surprising - the evolutionary justification is clear and has already been observed in lower life forms. Responding to stress by creating a tendency toward genes for energy conservation would be surprising, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. Responding to the changed height of available foliage by encouraging longer limb/neck gene transmission would force a complete reassessment.

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Nato

Thanks helpful Verabot!

Guess Typepad's verifiers are on the fritz.

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