Coyne on the BSC

January 4, 2011

Tags: Coyne, evolution

We wrote Spider Silk for two reasons. First, we wanted to share the wonders of spider silk and reveal how it allows spiders to take advantage of their surroundings in surprising ways. But second, we believe spiders and spider silk can show nonbiologists, in concrete detail, how the theory of evolution explains the mind-boggling variety of living beings on Earth.

We found Jerry Coyne and H. Allen Orr's book Speciation invaluable as we wrestled with how best to present some of this information. For nonbiologists, the questions of what exactly defines a species and how species become and remain distinct from each other are often perplexing--just as they were for Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace before they independently arrived at their brilliant insight. Yesterday and today, over at his Why Evolution Is True site, Coyne explains why the "biological species concept" (BSC) is the most useful way to think about species:

"What is the origin of species? Under the BSC, that question becomes equivalent to 'What is the origin of reproductive isolating barriers between closely related species?' And that is a much more tractable question."

Highly recommended reading: Part 1 and Part 2.




Tags

"...a compelling introduction to evolution in action through the lens of spiders and their silks."

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