Embryology and ontogeny - which model?

Hi! When debating the embryological defense of evolution, ID-people often criticize the proposed models for how to interpret ontogeny through an evolutionary model. This article is a good example of that:


I’m a student of theology, so I’m not well trained in the field of biology. It does seem to me uncontroversial to interpret embryological development in evolutionary terms (as does Venema with the dolphin embryo’s front nostrils and four feet) - but which model should be the lense throug which we see this evidence and how to respond to ID-criticism? Or should we be hesitant to point at a specific model?

My impression is that while embryology can give insights into ontology, reality is much more complicated and interesting. You might want to read this article on evo-Debo to get an overview. While a bit technical if not familiar with biology, it covers the high points in current thought.

It is uncontroversial but it’s complex. My view is that the scientific questions are not about interpretation of development “in evolutionary terms” but rather the opposite: using development to make hypotheses about the origins of body plans. Subtle distinction, perhaps.

I avoid reading evolutionnews stuff but took a look at this piece, and it’s pretty typically misleading. The hourglass model remains strong, useful, and actively discussed. Only through quotemining could the author suggest otherwise, and they ignored a major development that happened just a year before the 2011 posts on that site. You might consider reading what I wrote about the two big papers in 2010 on the hourglass, linked at bottom, or simply be assured that the hourglass model is strong and useful by considering (as an example) this kind of prominent paper from about 2 years ago:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0318-0

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Great piece! I especially enjoyed this bit:

The fact that ageing animals revert to older transcriptomes is in line with the notion that animals beyond the reproductive age are not ‘visible’ to natural selection and can therefore not be subject to specific adaptations any more.

Should I be happy or sad that aging animals are less visible to natural selection? Not that I’m beyond reproductive age. Asking for a friend.

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