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No. 108: Nov-Dec 1996

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Those selfish genes may also be intelligent!

R. Dawkins has proposed that we humans and other organisms are merely lumbering life-support systems for our genes. In this view, genomes are the masters, controlling our evolution and behavior to ensure their own survival and multiplication. In short, our genes are "selfish."

J. Shapiro, at the University of Chicago, has gone a step further and ascribed still another human attribute to genomes.

"Genomes function as true intelligent systems, which can be readjusted when conditions require. We still lack testable theories to explain how this can be done. (Genetica, 84:4, 1991)"

Perhaps we see evidence of this "intelligence" of genes when bacteria and other microorganisms rapidly accommodate to environmental challenges, as in the application of new antibiotics. In this context, read below about the fast-evolving cichlid fishes of Lake Victoria. These fish must have macho genes!

From Science Frontiers #108, NOV-DEC 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss