More laws of biology

Four years ago I wrote a post asking whether there were any fundamental laws of biology that are sufficiently general to apply beyond the context of life on Earth [‘Laws of biology?‘ on January 16th, 2016].  I suggested Dollo’s law that diversity and complexity increases in evolutionary systems; the Hardy-Weinberg law about allele and genotype frequencies remaining constant from generation to generation; and the Michaelis-Menten law governing enzymatic reactions.  Recently, I came across a simpler statement of the laws of biology proposed by Edward O.Wilson.  He states that the first law of biology is all entities and processes of life are obedient to the laws of physics and chemistry; and the second law is all evolution, beyond minor random perturbations due to high mutation rates and random fluctuations in the number of competing genes, is due to natural selection.  It seems likely that these simpler laws will be universally applicable; however, until we find evidence of extra-terrestrial life, they will remain untestable in a universal context unlike the laws of physics.


Edward O. Wilson, Letters to a Young Scientist, Liveright Pub. Co., NY, 2013.



2 thoughts on “More laws of biology

  1. Raymond Horstman

    I found a law for myself. I dont know if it aplies to all birds but there seems to be a tendency that birdspecies with great differences between male and female, the male has little interst to take care for his offspring. The more male and female look similar the more they will both take care for their offspring. As I said, I dont know if it aplies for all birdspecies.

  2. drehack

    I am struggling with a law that suggests “that diversity and complexity increases in evolutionary systems”. Is it a law? Is it not rather a postulate? In physics and chemistry, laws can be put to test. Not so in biological systems. The fundamental processes of mutation and selection (there are probably more modern terms for that) are at play on different fields: mutation affects the genes, viz. the coding, while selection happens on the phenes, viz. the expression. So why should a random change on the code lead to better or even new expression, as it would need adaptation of the entire path with all biochemical processes to drive the code into a feature. We should acknowledge that meaningful complexity is target driven, not selection driven.


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