Behaviour and the Origin of Organisms

Matthew Egbert, Martin M. Hanczyc, Inman Harvey, Nathaniel Virgo, Emily C. Parke, Tom Froese, Hiroki Sayama, Alexandra S. Penn & Stuart Bartlett 

Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

It is common in origins of life research to view the first stages of life as the passive result of particular environmental conditions. This paper considers the alternative possibility: that the antecedents of life were already actively regulating their environment to maintain the conditions necessary for their own persistence. In support of this proposal, we describe ‘viability-based behaviour’: a way that simple entities can adaptively regulate their environment in response to their health, and in so doing, increase the likelihood of their survival. Drawing on empirical investigations of simple self-preserving abiological systems, we argue that these viability-based behaviours are simple enough to precede neo-Darwinian evolution. We also explain how their operation can reduce the demanding requirements that mainstream theories place upon the environment(s) in which life emerged.

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