Nature vs. nurture? Both are important, anthropologist argues

Evolutionary science stresses the contributions biology makes to our behavior. Some anthropologists try to understand how societies and histories construct our identities, and others ask about how genes and the environment ...

Study offers insight into the origin of the genetic code

An analysis of enzymes that load amino acids onto transfer RNAs—an operation at the heart of protein translation—offers new insights into the evolutionary origins of the modern genetic code, researchers report. Their ...

Biological fitness trumps other traits in mating game

When a new species emerges following adaptive changes to its local environment, the process of choosing a mate can help protect the new species' genetic identity and increase the likelihood of its survival. But of the many ...

Personality test finds some mouse lemurs shy, others bold

Anyone who has ever owned a pet will tell you that it has a unique personality. Yet only in the last 10 years has the study of animal personality started to gain ground with behavioral ecologists, said Jennifer Verdolin of ...

Fossil finds shed light on penguins' evolutionary past

Africa isn't the kind of place you might expect to find penguins. But one species lives along Africa's southern coast today, and newly found fossils confirm that as many as four penguin species coexisted on the continent ...

Model sheds light on the chemistry that sparked the origin of life

The question of how life began on a molecular level has been a longstanding problem in science. However, recent mathematical research sheds light on a possible mechanism by which life may have gotten a foothold in the chemical ...

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Modern evolutionary synthesis

The modern evolutionary synthesis (also referred to as the new synthesis, the modern synthesis, and the evolutionary synthesis) is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which forms a logical account of evolution. This synthesis has been accepted by nearly all working biologists. The synthesis was produced over about a decade (1936–1947), and the development of population genetics (1918–1932) was the stimulus. This showed that Mendelian genetics was consistent with natural selection and gradual evolution. The synthesis is still, to a large extent, the current paradigm in evolutionary biology.

Julian Huxley invented the term, when he produced his book, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942). Other major figures in the modern synthesis include R. A. Fisher, Theodosius Dobzhansky, J.B.S. Haldane, Sewall Wright, E.B. Ford, Ernst Mayr, Bernhard Rensch, Sergei Chetverikov, George Gaylord Simpson, and G. Ledyard Stebbins.

The modern synthesis solved difficulties and confusions caused by the specialisation and poor communication between biologists in the early years of the 20th century. Discoveries of early geneticists were difficult to reconcile with gradual evolution and the mechanism of natural selection. The synthesis reconciled the two schools of thought, while providing evidence that studies of populations in the field were crucial to evolutionary theory. It drew together ideas from several branches of biology that had become separated, particularly genetics, cytology, systematics, botany, morphology, ecology and paleontology.

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