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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The dynamic and contingent nature of development revealed by work in developmental biology, neuroscience, and developmental psychology has challenged the notion of genes as the primary cause of development and renewed interest in the nature of the relations between developmental and evolutionary processes. To situate this shift in thinking currently underway across the life sciences, this chapter provides an overview of the ideas used to explain the connection between development and evolution over the last several centuries. It critiques several of these enduring ideas in light of recent findings from developmental and evolutionary science, particularly the notions that instructions for building organisms reside in their genes, that genes are the exclusive vehicles by which these instructions are transmitted from one generation to the next, and that there is no meaningful feedback from the environment to the genes.

Keywords: genes, development, developmental processes, evolutionary processes, environment

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