© 2015


Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence

  • Emanuele Serrelli
  • Nathalie Gontier

Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER, volume 2)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Emanuele Serrelli, Nathalie Gontier
    Pages 1-25
  3. Macroevolutionary Explanations and Interpretations

  4. Evidencing Macroevolution with Case Studies

About this book


This book is divided in two parts, the first of which shows how, beyond paleontology and systematics, macroevolutionary theories apply key insights from ecology and biogeography, developmental biology, biophysics, molecular phylogenetics, and even the sociocultural sciences to explain evolution in deep time. In the second part, the phenomenon of macroevolution is examined with the help of real life-history case studies on the evolution of eukaryotic sex, the formation of anatomical form and body-plans, extinction and speciation events of marine invertebrates, hominin evolution and species conservation ethics.

The book brings together leading experts, who explain pivotal concepts such as Punctuated Equilibria, Stasis, Developmental Constraints, Adaptive Radiations, Habitat Tracking, Turnovers, (Mass) Extinctions, Species Sorting, Major Transitions, Trends, and Hierarchies – key premises that allow macroevolutionary epistemic frameworks to transcend microevolutionary theories that focus on genetic variation, selection, migration and fitness.

Along the way, the contributing authors review ongoing debates and current scientific challenges; detail new and fascinating scientific tools and techniques that allow us to cross the classic borders between disciplines; demonstrate how their theories make it possible to extend the Modern Synthesis; present guidelines on how the macroevolutionary field could be further developed; and provide a rich view of just how it was that life evolved across time and space. In short, this book is a must-read for active scholars and, because the technical aspects are fully explained, it is also accessible for non-specialists.


Understanding evolution requires a solid grasp of above-population phenomena. Species are real biological individuals, and abiotic factors impact the future course of evolution. Beyond observation, when the explanation of macroevolution is the goal, we need both evidence and theory that enable us to explain and interpret how life evolves at the grand scale.


adaptive radiation evolutionary constraints extinction hierarchy theory human evolution natural selection puctuated equilibria speciation stasis

Editors and affiliations

  • Emanuele Serrelli
    • 1
  • Nathalie Gontier
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human Sciences U6, 4th floorUniversity of Milano Bicocca "Riccardo Massa"MilanoItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Philosophy of Science Campo Grande, Edifício C4University of Lisbon AppEELLisbonPortugal

About the editors

Nathalie Gontier is a philosopher of science and an anthropologist. Her main research interests lie in evolutionary epistemology and non-Darwinian evolutionary theories, how the latter differ from the Modern Synthesis and how they can be implemented into the linguistic sciences and the overall sociocultural domain. As the founding director of the Lisbon Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, she is affiliated to the Centre for Philosophy of Science at the Faculty of Science of the University of Lisbon, and financed by the Portuguese Fund for Science and Technology. Previous appointments were held at the Dutch Free University of Brussels (Belgium), the Konrad Lorenz Institute (Austria), and the American Museum of Natural History (USA). Her research has been sponsored by the American John Templeton Foundation, the European Marie Curie Actions and the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research Flanders. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Springer book series Interdisciplinary Evolution Research.

Emanuele Serrelli is a philosopher of science interested in interdisciplinarity within and across the natural and social sciences. He works with several Italian universities. He was visiting scholar at the University of Utah, and visiting fellow at the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science, the Lisbon Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, and the NESCent - National Center for Evolutionary Synthesis, Durham, NC. As a member of the scientific board of CISEPS - Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics, Psychology and Social Sciences, he leads the “Cultural Evolution” research programme at University of Milano Bicocca. As a philosopher of biology, he is trained in evolutionary theory, a field in which he also studies interdisciplinarity and modeling. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Macroevolution
  • Book Subtitle Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence
  • Editors Emanuele Serrelli
    Nathalie Gontier
  • Series Title Interdisciplinary Evolution Research
  • Series Abbreviated Title Interdisciplinary Evolution Res.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Biomedical and Life Sciences Biomedical and Life Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-15044-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-35370-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-15045-1
  • Series ISSN 2199-3068
  • Series E-ISSN 2199-3076
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 403
  • Number of Illustrations 39 b/w illustrations, 8 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Evolutionary Biology
    Philosophy of Biology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The second in the series ‘Interdisciplinary Evolution Research,’ Macroevolution is a carefully selected, edited volume of 11 chapters plus an introduction on evolution above the species level, which is the body of evolutionary theory covered by the term macroevolution. … Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.” (B. K. Hall, Choice, Vol. 53 (2), October, 2015)