1st Edition

Extending the Evolutionary Synthesis Darwin’s Legacy Redesigned

By Axel Lange Copyright 2023
    286 Pages 59 Color & 24 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    286 Pages 59 Color & 24 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The theory of evolution is itself evolving with new findings and changes in the fundamental underlying concepts. It is true that today's synthetic theory, which goes back to Darwin, is persistently successful. However, it offers no convincing explanation to many questions, some examples of which are as follows: What forms of inheritance exist besides genetics; how complex variations, especially evolutionary innovations such as bird feathers and turtle shells, arise; how the environment affects the evolution of species and is changed by them simultaneously; and why the evolution of birds, corals, and human culture is not explainable by natural selection alone.

    Scientific findings of the last decades require continuous rethinking and integration of new data and concepts into the theory of evolution. This comprehensibly written and excellently researched book provides exciting new insights into the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis using fascinating new examples from evolutionary biology.

    Key Features

    • Comprehensively explains the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis
    • Understandably written for a broad audience
    • Includes interviews with world-leading evolutionary biologists
    • Reviews the historical development of evolutionary theory with explanations of open, unanswered questions
    • Explains the new concepts with powerful illustrations

    Related Titles

    Bard, J. Evolution: The Origins and Mechanisms of Diversity (ISBN 9781032138480)

    Johnson, N. Darwin’s Reach: 21st Century Applications of Evolutionary Biology (ISBN 9781138587427)

    1 Darwin’s millennium theory and Bateson’s counter model 

    2 The Modern Synthesis: The standard model of evolution 

    3 Evo-devo—The best of both worlds 

    4. Selected evo-devo research results 

    5 The niche construction theory 

    6 Extended Evolutionary Synthesis 

    7 Theories on the evolution of thinking 

    8 The evolution of humankind in our (non)biological future 

    9 More than one theory of evolution–A pluralistic approach 

    10 The players of the new thinking in evolutionary theory 


    Axel Lange, PhD, graduated from the Jesuit Kolleg St. Blasien, a Jesuit school in the Black Forest, Germany. He then studied economics and philosophy at the University of Freiburg. Professionally, he worked in sales and marketing management in IT before his deep interest in evolutionary theory led him to completely reorient himself in biology. Lange's first book on Evo-Devo and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, published in 2012, provided the basis for the University of Vienna to sign a PhD contract with him. At the Department of Theoretical Biology there, Lange studied biology and researched the evolutionary limb development of vertebrates and – the evolutionary point of view – polydactyly, which is the heritable formation of supernumerary fingers and toes in newborns. A new finger has thousands of bone, nerve, muscle, skin and blood vessel cells; yet several such fingers and toes appear functionally sometimes in a single generation in the embryo and even pass on in varying numbers. Standard evolutionary theory cannot explain the mechanisms for this. So how does this phenotype arise? This was the question that preoccupied Lange. His publication with Gerd. B. Müller on humanity's knowledge of polydactyly in development, heredity and evolution, from antiquity to the present day, appeared in March 2017 in the American journal The Quarterly Review of Biology. Further publications deal with the self-organizing capacity of the limb with simultaneous variation in digit numbers. The biologist, who received his PhD with distinction in 2018, lectures on complex, epigenetic evo-devo processes at home and abroad. The future of human evolution in conjunction with artificial intelligence is also one of his favorite lecture topics. In the course of studying the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, Lange got to know internationally renowned researchers personally. He loves the mountains, is passionate about playing romantic piano music and lives as an author and science journalist in the south of Munich. Lange has three grown-up children.

    "Anyone with an interest in evolutionary biology should read this book….The chapters in this book provide an excellent overview of a large part of today’s theorizing in evolutionary biology, with an emphasis on ideas that are not (yet?) mainstream." Prof. Lennart Olsson | Acta Zoologica 

    “This is a broad, balanced and useful review of new directions in Evolutionary Biology; a very even-handed summary and not the usual 'hard sell' of a single idea.” Prof. John A. Endler | FRS.

    "Axel Lange brought together an integrated body of knowledge built by experts from many disciplines. For the first time, Axel Lange prepares the new extended evolutionary theory in all its contents in an excellently understandable way for the reader. Of high contemporary documentary value are the author's interviews with internationally leading evolutionary biologists. In summary, this book fills a huge gap in today's scientific literature and is a top recommendation in every respect for any reader who wants to update his and her understanding of evolution." Dr. Daniel Segelcke | University of Münster

    "Axel Lange displays a refreshing openness to new ways of thinking about evolution. His book is a valuable introduction to how 21st century science is enlarging our ideas about this most fundamental of biological processes." Prof. James A. Shapiro | University of Chicago

    "Lange has provided a useful and informed summary of some of the new ideas and data that are starting to make biologists think again about how evolution works." Prof. Kevin Lala | University of St Andrews

    "This is the book to give your friends to understand contemporary evolutionary biology. They will never see their toes the same way again. Informative and entertaining, Extending the Evolutionary Synthesis provides an appreciation of the natural world and the origins of biodiversity that will enrich the lives of any reader." Scott F. Gilbert | Swarthmore College