The Lego Game

Alexandre Meinesz

in How Life Began

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226519319
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226519333 | DOI:
The Lego Game

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The passage from microbial unicellular animal and plant life to multicellular life is easy to imagine; it seems so evident that is not discussed in most evolution books. Nevertheless, it required a series of major innovations, all of which had to be acquired by multicellular organisms. This chapter first presents the environmental causes that oriented life towards complexity, towards multicellularity. Then it describes the various stages of cellular association that led to the emergence of multicellularity, and emphasizes that they were not all predetermined, and there is no tendency towards complexity of life. Finally, the chapter considers the very strange parallelism of multicellularity: the fact that diverse, independent lineages of life all adopted multicellular structure and specialization of cells. Is this coincidence a simple convergence of adaptation to a shared lifestyle? Or does it derive from a shared genetic basis that drives evolution in this direction?

Keywords: multicellular life; multicellularity; cellular association; origin of life; evolution; adaptation; specialization

Chapter.  11425 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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