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Art Woods, Marty Martin
Where does biological innovation come from? Why do some innovations wait millions of years for their spotlight?
Life must constantly innovate for evolution to occur, but many forms of biological innovation often lie dormant, sometimes for millions of years. In this episode, we speak to Andreas Wagner about his recent book, Sleeping Beauties: The Mystery of Dormant Innovations in Nature and Culture. Andreas is a professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In the book, Andreas explains how novel traits sometimes have to wait until the environment changes to become useful, leading to speciation or offering novel solutions to ecological problems. These long fuses are also evident in our own history, namely the life-changing technologies that we invent but don’t fully exploit until the right social or economic context arises.
Cover photo: Keating Shahmehri
Length of Episode
1 hour, 11 minutes, 21 seconds
Digital File Format
Woods, Art and Martin, Marty, "Episode 104: Sleeping Beauties: The Mystery of Dormant Innovations in Nature and Culture (with Andreas Wagner)" (2023). BigBiology Podcasts. 106.