[Taxacom] Darwin dispersal teleology

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Fri Apr 24 07:29:26 CDT 2009

Finally there is (in my opinion) a definitive review integrating the conceptual relationship between Darwin's biogeography and his evolution and the resulting pervasive use of teleology in evolutionary theory today. The following article can be accessed at



Heads, M.J. 2009. Darwin's changing views on evolution: from centres of origin and teleology to vicariance and incomplete lineage sorting



It is a strange fact that in many ways the first edition of Charles Darwin's Origin of

Species is closer to modern neodarwinism than the sixth and last edition.

Sometimes this is attributed to a decline in the quality of the argument, but the

opposite interpretation is given here. It is suggested that Darwin's early work on

evolution is naı¨ve and based on the two creationist principles of centre of origin

and teleology (panselectionism). This fusion later became the 'modern synthesis'.

However, after the first edition of the Origin, Darwin developed a non-teleological

synthesis that integrated natural selection with what he called 'laws of

growth' - phylogenetic/morphogenetic trends or tendencies. Discussion of Darwin's

later, more sophisticated model of evolution has been suppressed in the

teleological modern synthesis, but similar ideas are re-emerging in current work

on molecular phylogenetics and biogeography. This indicates that the ancestor of

a group can be diverse in its morphology and its ecology, that this diversity can be

inherited, and that groups usually originate over a broad region and not at a

single point.



John Grehan

Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372




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