#1 - Posted: 05/09/2008 17:00
At last, people seem to be willing to take viruses seriously. New Scientist ran a feature last week (here, subscription required) that suggests not only are viruses 10 million times more common than previously estimated, they are also a "creative evolutionary force of unparalleled reach and power". They are "right at the heart of early evolution". The discoveries "may be the biggest advance in evolutionary thinking since the discovery of the gene", and "challenges many tenets of evolution, not least that it is driven by competition between selfish genes."
This is music to my ears (eyes?) - it's the conclusion I came to in the Giant Virus chapter of the book. The thing is, will anybody work out the connection to death and sex?
I'm convinced it's there: our new understanding of viruses may be the thing that deposes the selfish gene, which would allow some kind of group selection, and allow for death and the most obvious source of sex. It's not straightforward, but I think there's something there...