Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club


What is a “Novelty”?

Yesterday we discussed a paper by Hall & Kerney on “Levels of Biological Organization and the Origin of Novelty“. Although I initially didn’t really enjoy the paper, it ended up being quite interesting and it sparked some great discussion (see a video of our chat here).

Many people have shown an interest in continuing our discussion of “novelty”, so perhaps we can use this post to bounce ideas and share other papers on this topic. Some of the key themes/questions we were left wondering about were:

  1. What is a “novel” trait, and how can/should you define it?
  2. Is the classification of a trait as “novel” dependent on scale?
    1. If so, what kinds of scale (e.g., temporal, developmental)?
    2. How do you define scale in a useful way for studying macroevolution?
  3. Can a novel trait really only arise from horizontal gene transfer?
  4. Is there a disconnect between the fields of evo-devo and macroevolution in terms of defining “novelty”?


EBJClubber or not, anyone and everyone should feel free to join in this discussion. Leave your comments below!


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Reading for Tuesday, November 13th

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay. The paper chosen for this week was the paper by Hall & Kerney on “Levels of Biological Organization and the Origin of Novelty. I believe it is Open Access so everyone should be able to download it. If not let me know.

As usual, our meeting time is Tuesday 5PM EDT, and we will meet both using Google+ Hangouts and the text chat room. Just follow the links if you have any questions.