Empedocles' On Nature, P. Strasb. Gr. Inv. 1665-6, a theory of networks and evolutionary growth ~2,400 years before Darwin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The Strasbourg papyrus fragments of the Upper Egyptian city of Panopolis are puzzling. The writings, which have been attributed to Empedocles by direct transmission, describe a process of evolutionary growth. Here we dissect translations of this ~2,000-year old hexameter text and confirm that it describes both a theory of evolution by natural selection akin to that of Darwin and the existence of lineages in an evolving network of life. However, the theory appears more profound and ancient. It presents network-like processes of unification and diversification that explain biological accretion and growth. The theory is compatible with knowledge from modern biology. It also matches a recent model of biological module creation that is supported by the phylogenomic analysis of the structure of millions of protein and nucleic acid molecules. The ancient text shows remarkable foresight in biological prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUntangling Molecular Biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationExplaining Unity And Diversity Principles Of Organization With Molecular Structure And Evolutionary Genomics
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing
Pages599-648
Number of pages50
ISBN (Electronic)9789814656627
ISBN (Print)9789814656610
StatePublished - Nov 20 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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