Evolutionary Theory Takes Big Leap With Evo-Devo
Research in embryonic development reveals how organisms evolve
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2007 9:39 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Evolutionary theory is in the early days of its third great expansion, the New York Times reports, following Darwin’s original formulation almost 150 years ago and the so-called “modern synthesis” of 1930-50. Dubbed “evo-devo” because it focuses on the embryonic development of organisms, the newest science explores how specific genes control significant aspects of an organism’s growth.

These genes are part of the “genetic toolkit” shared by most animals and plants, and their existence helps to explain how evolutionary pressures are channeled by the genes in coherent patterns of development. Rather than requiring many new genes, complex new forms result from mere tweaks to a surprisingly small pool of existing genes.