The Explosion of Life Forms

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One of the essential characteristics of living beings is the explosion ofvariety in their forms that is intrinsically linked to the diversity of theenvironments they have adapted to.

This book, the result of collaboration between international specialists,analyzes the multiplicity of these morphologies. It explores the origin offorms, their role in defining living things, and the relationship betweenform and function. It exposes the role of genes and epigenetics andexamines the forms of bacteria, protists and plants.The Explosion of Life Forms also studies the memory of animals andtheir sensory processes, the forms of robots (built in the image of livingthings), and medical technologies aimed at restoring damaged livingforms.Finally, this work questions a common principle of construction in thediversity of forms, as well as the idea of an abandonment of the form, apossible hidden defect of some modern philosophies.


Georges Chapouthier is a biologist, philosopher and Emeritus Director of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. His research interests focus on animals and the brain.

Marie-Christine Maurel is a Professor at Sorbonne University and a researcher at the Institut de Systematique, Evolution, Biodiversite laboratory at the National Museum of Natural History in France. Her research interests focus on the origins of life, RNA, viroids and molecular archeobiology.


Introduction xi
Georges CHAPOUTHIER and Marie-Christine MAUREL

Chapter 1. Possible Traces and Clues of Early Life Forms 1
Marie-Christine MAUREL

1.1. Introduction 1

1.2. Have things always been as they are today? 2

1.3. Fossil traces? 4

1.4. Geochemical elements confirming these recent results 6

1.5. Compartmentalization of resources and primary biomass 9

1.6. Rebuilding a living cell: a wide range of possibilities explored, from the mineral to the organic 12

1.7. Conclusion 13

1.8. Acknowledgments 14

1.9. References 14

Chapter 2. The Nature of Life 19
Andreas LOSCH

2.1. Observations and assumptions 20

2.2. Descriptions and definitions 21

2.3. Exploration 23

2.4. Conclusion 25

2.5. References 26

Chapter 3. From Form to Function 29
Jean-Pierre GASC

3.1. Form: a concept for knowledge 29

3.2. Basic structural elements: from the molecule to the cell 31

3.3. The weight of the physical setting 34

3.4. Mesoderm: base material for architect genes 35

3.5. Appendices and laws of mechanics 37

3.6. Appendicular movement on land 40

3.7. The legless 44

3.8. And the head 44

3.9. References 47

Chapter 4. On Growth and Form: Context and Purpose 51
Jean-Pierre GASC

4.1. D'Arcy Thompson's program 54

4.2. Application of mathematics to morphometry 59

4.3. References 61

Chapter 5. The Emergence of Form in the History of Epigenetics 65
Jonathan B. WEITZMAN

5.1. Introduction 65

5.2. From epigenesis to epigenetics 66

5.3. The evolution of the epigenetic landscape 68

5.4. Modernizing the epigenetic landscape 70

5.5. From epigenetic landscape to chromosome conformation 72

5.6. Conclusion: from form to function 75

5.7. Acknowledgments 76

5.8. References 76

Chapter 6. The Many Shapes of Microbial Detection of Kin and Kind 79
Guillermo PAZ-Y-MIÑO-C and Avelina ESPINOSA

6.1. From Darwin's social-insects-puzzle to microbes 80

6.2. Handshakes of kinship or kindship in bacteria 81

6.3. The ameba world of clone discrimination/recognition 85

6.4. Social microbes and multicellularity 88

6.5. Conclusion 95

6.6. References 95

Chapter 7. Development and Evolution of Plant Forms 101
Florian JABBOUR and Guilhem MANSION

7.1. Introduction 101

7.2. Diversity of plant forms and associated functions 102

7.2.1. Anthropocentric view of plant forms 102

7.2.2. Plant forms perceived by pollinators 103

7.3. Origin and evolution of plant forms 104

7.3.1. Pattern formation during ontogenesis 104

7.3.2. Physical-mathematical considerations on plant morphogenesis 105

7.3.3. Implementation of forms during phylogenesis 107

7.4. Origin and evolution of plant forms 112

7.4.1. Usefulness for human societies 112

7.4.2. Usefulness for botanical classifiers 114

7.5. Conclusion 118

7.6. Acknowledgements 118

7.7. References 118

Chapter 8. Forms of Memory 125

8.1. Introduction 125

8.2. The polymorphism of memory 126

8.3. Non-associative memories 127

8.3.1. Habituation and sensitization 127

8.3.2. Priming 129

8.3.3. Perceptual learning 130

8.4. Classical conditioning 131

8.4.1. Operational definition, rules and varieties of classical conditioning 131

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The Explosion of Life Forms
Living Beings and Morphology
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