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Journal of the History of Biology

David Sepkoski
In the received view of the history of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, paleontology was given a prominent role in evolutionary biology thanks to the significant influence of paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson on both the institutional and conceptual development of the Synthesis. Simpson's 1944 Tempo and Mode in Evolution is considered a classic of Synthesis-era biology, and Simpson often remarked on the influence of other major Synthesis figures-such as Ernst Mayr and Theodosius Dobzhansky-on his developing thought...
November 6, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Kathryn Maxson Jones, Rachel A Ankeny, Robert Cook-Deegan
The Bermuda Principles for DNA sequence data sharing are an enduring legacy of the Human Genome Project (HGP). They were adopted by the HGP at a strategy meeting in Bermuda in February of 1996 and implemented in formal policies by early 1998, mandating daily release of HGP-funded DNA sequences into the public domain. The idea of daily sharing, we argue, emanated directly from strategies for large, goal-directed molecular biology projects first tested within the "community" of C. elegans researchers, and were introduced and defended for the HGP by the nematode biologists John Sulston and Robert Waterston...
November 2, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Eric D Green, Christopher R Donohue
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 1, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Dominic J Berry, Paolo Palladino
In this paper we articulate how time and temporalities are involved in the making of living things. For these purposes, we draw on an instructive episode concerning Norfolk Horn sheep. We attend to historical debates over the nature of the breed, whether it is extinct or not, and whether presently living exemplars are faithful copies of those that came before. We argue that there are features to these debates that are important to understanding contemporary configurations of life, time, and the organism, especially as these are articulated within the field of synthetic biology...
October 30, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Anya Plutynski
Speciation-the origin of new species-has been one of the most active areas of research in evolutionary biology, both during, and since the Modern Synthesis. While the Modern Synthesis certainly shaped research on speciation in significant ways, providing a core framework, and set of categories and methods to work with, the history of work on speciation since the mid-20th Century is a history of divergence and diversification. This piece traces this divergence, through both theoretical advances, and empirical insights into how different lineages, with different genetics and ecological conditions, are shaped by very different modes of diversification...
October 25, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Ramya M Rajagopalan, Joan H Fujimura
In this article we examine the history of the production of microarray technologies and their role in constructing and operationalizing views of human genetic difference in contemporary genomics. Rather than the "turn to difference" emerging as a post-Human Genome Project (HGP) phenomenon, interest in individual and group differences was a central, motivating concept in human genetics throughout the twentieth century. This interest was entwined with efforts to develop polymorphic "genetic markers" for studying human traits and diseases...
October 18, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Aaron Novick
Charles Darwin, in his species notebooks, engaged seriously with the quinarian system of William Sharp Macleay. Much of the attention given to this engagement has focused on Darwin's attempt to explain, in a transmutationist framework, the intricate patterns that characterized the quinarian system. Here, I show that Darwin's attempt to explain these quinarian patterns primarily occurred before he had read any work by Macleay. By the time Darwin began reading Macleay's writings, he had already arrived at a skeptical view of the reality of these patterns...
September 10, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Oliver Hill-Andrews
This essay examines the reception of Ivan Pavlov's work on conditioned reflexes in early to mid-twentieth century Britain. Recent work on the political interpretation of biology has shown that the nineteenth-century strategy of "making socialists" was undermined by August Weismann's attacks on the inheritance of acquired characters. I argue that Pavlov's research reinvigorated socialist hopes of transforming society and the people in it. I highlight the work of Pavlov's interpreters, notably the scientific journalist J...
August 27, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Joseph November
The genomics community has frequently compared advances in sequencing to advances in microelectronics. Lately there have been many claims, including by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), that genomics is outpacing developments in computing as measured by Moore's law - the notion that computers double in processing capability per dollar spent every 18-24 months. Celebrations of the "$1000 genome" and other speed-related sequencing milestones might be dismissed as a distraction from genomics' slowness in delivering clinical breakthroughs, but the fact that such celebrations have been persistently encouraged by the NHGRI reveals a great deal about the priorities and expectations of the American general public, the intended audience of the genomics-computing comparison...
August 23, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Derek Partridge
Darwin's first two, relatively complete, explicit articulations of his theorizing on evolution were his Essay of 1844 and On the Origin of Species published in 1859. A comparative analysis concludes that they espoused radically different theories despite exhibiting a continuity of strategy, much common structure and the same key idea. Both were theories of evolution by means of natural selection. In 1844, organic adaptation was confined to occasional intervals initiated and controlled by de-stabilization events...
September 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Amanda E Lewis
Following Kenya's independence in 1963, scientists converged on an ecologically sensitive area in southern Kenya on the northern slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro called Amboseli. This region is the homeland of the Ilkisongo Maasai who grazed this ecosystem along with the wildlife of interest to the scientists. Biologists saw opportunities to study this complex community, an environment rich in biological diversity. The Amboseli landscape proved to be fertile ground for testing new methods and lines of inquiry in the biological sciences that were generalizable and important for shaping natural resource management policies in Kenya...
September 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Martin J S Rudwick
An earlier article described the mid-twentieth century origins of the method of "paradigms" in paleobiology, as a way of making testable hypotheses about the functional morphology of extinct organisms. The present article describes the use of "paradigms" through the 1970s and, briefly, to the end of the century. After I had proposed the paradigm method to help interpret the ecological history of brachiopods, my students developed it in relation to that and other invertebrate phyla, notably in Euan Clarkson's analysis of vision in trilobites...
September 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Clare Button
In 1919 the Animal Breeding Research Department was established in Edinburgh. This Department, later renamed the Institute of Animal Genetics, forged an international reputation, eventually becoming the centrepiece of a cluster of new genetics research units and institutions in Edinburgh after the Second World War. Yet despite its significance for institutionalising animal genetics research in the UK, the origins and development of the Department have not received as much scholarly attention as its importance warrants...
September 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Clement Levallois
This paper aims at bridging a gap between the history of American animal behavior studies and the history of sociobiology. In the post-war period, ecology, comparative psychology and ethology were all investigating animal societies, using different approaches ranging from fieldwork to laboratory studies. We argue that this disunity in "practices of place" (Kohler, Robert E. Landscapes & Labscapes: Exploring the Lab-Field Border in Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) explains the attempts of dialogue between those three fields and early calls for unity through "sociobiology" by J...
September 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Christian Ross
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
July 30, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Ton van Helvoort, Neeraja Sankaran
This paper examines the vital role played by electron microscopy toward the modern definition of viruses, as formulated in the late 1950s. Before the 1930s viruses could neither be visualized by available technologies nor grown in artificial media. As such they were usually identified by their ability to cause diseases in their hosts and defined in such negative terms as "ultramicroscopic" or invisible infectious agents that could not be cultivated outside living cells. The invention of the electron microscope, with magnification and resolution powers several orders of magnitude better than that of optical instruments, opened up possibilities for biological applications...
June 20, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
David Ceccarelli
In the years of the post-Darwinian debate, many American naturalists invoked the name of Lamarck to signal their belief in a purposive and anti-Darwinian view of evolution. Yet Weismann's theory of germ-plasm continuity undermined the shared tenet of the neo-Lamarckian theories as well as the idea of the interchangeability between biological and social heredity. Edward Drinker Cope, the leader of the so-called "American School," defended his neo-Lamarckian philosophy against every attempt to redefine the relationship between behavior, development, and heredity beyond the epigenetic model of inheritance...
June 5, 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Karen R Zwier
Aristotle's theory of spontaneous generation offers many puzzles to those who wish to understand his theory both within the context of his biology and within the context of his more general philosophy of nature. In this paper, I approach the difficult and vague elements of Aristotle's account of spontaneous generation not as weaknesses, but as opportunities for an interesting glimpse into the thought of an early scientist struggling to reconcile evidence and theory. The paper has two goals: (1) to give as charitable and full an account as possible of what Aristotle's theory of spontaneous generation was, and to examine some of its consequences; and (2) to reflect on Aristotle as a scientist, and what his comments reveal about how he approached a difficult problem...
June 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Maureen A O'Malley
Since the 1940s, microbiologists, biochemists and population geneticists have experimented with the genetic mechanisms of microorganisms in order to investigate evolutionary processes. These evolutionary studies of bacteria and other microorganisms gained some recognition from the standard-bearers of the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology, especially Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ledyard Stebbins. A further period of post-synthesis bacterial evolutionary research occurred between the 1950s and 1980s. These experimental analyses focused on the evolution of population and genetic structure, the adaptive gain of new functions, and the evolutionary consequences of competition dynamics...
June 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
Ayelet Shavit, James R Griesemer
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the biologist Joseph Grinnell made a distinction between science and sentiment for producing fact-based generalizations on how to conserve biodiversity. We are inspired by Grinnellian science, which successfully produced a century-long impact on studying and conserving biodiversity that runs orthogonal to some familiar philosophical distinctions such as fact versus value, emotion versus reason and basic versus applied science. According to Grinnell, unlike sentiment-based generalizations, a fact-based generalization traces its diverse commitments and thus becomes tractable for its audience...
June 2018: Journal of the History of Biology
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