Perhaps development is more than just morphogenesis. We now recognize that the conceptus expresses epigenetic marks that heritably affect it phenotypically, indicating that the offspring are to some degree genetically autonomous, and that ontogeny and phylogeny may coordinately determine the fate of such marks. This scenario mechanistically links ecology, ontogeny and phylogeny together as an integrated mechanism for evolution for the first time. As a functional example, the Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein (PTHrP) signaling duplicated during the Phanerozoic water-land transition. The PTHrP signaling pathway was critical for the evolution of the skeleton, skin barrier, and lung function, based on experimental evidence, inferring that physiologic stress can profoundly affect adaptation through internal selection, giving seminal insights to how and why vertebrates were able to evolve from water to land. By viewing evolution from its inception in unicellular organisms, driven by competition between pro- and eukaryotes, the emergence of complex biologic traits from the unicellular cell membrane offers a novel way of thinking about the process of evolution from its beginnings, rather than from its consequences as is traditionally done. And by focusing on the epistatic balancing mechanisms for calcium and lipid homeostasis, the evolution of unicellular organisms, driven by competition between pro- and eukaryotes, gave rise to the emergence of complex biologic traits derived from the unicellular plasma lemma, offering a unique way of thinking about the process of evolution. By exploiting the cellular-molecular mechanisms of lung evolution as ontogeny and phylogeny, the sequence of events for the evolution of the skin, kidney and skeleton become more transparent. This novel approach to the evolution question offers equally novel insights to the primacy of the unicellular state, hologenomics and even a priori bioethical decisions.
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