Speculative review on the origin of eukaryotes: Extreme environments and the relative contribution of survival and fecundity to fitness

This paper reviews the fossil evidence and theoretical scenarios pertaining to the second biggest (the first being the origin of life) unanswered question in evolutionary biology; the origin of eukaryotes (large complex cells with nuclei). I suggest that this event illustrates a general principle: Qualitative transitions in biological complexity occur when the physical environment forces survival, rather than fecundity, to become the dominant component of fitness. I also argue that this is relevant to the general idea of novelty as a result of the forcing together of qualitatively different systems that function in similar ways but are composed of different stuff…

eukaryotes final



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