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Evolution and the Emergent SelfThe Rise of Complexity and Behavioral Versatility in Nature$
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Raymond Neubauer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231150705

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.001.0001

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Voyages into Homeostasis

Voyages into Homeostasis

Chapter:
(p.18) 2 Voyages into Homeostasis
Source:
Evolution and the Emergent Self
Author(s):

Raymond L. Neubauer

, Xuan Yue
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231150705.003.0002

This chapter presents a brief overview of the history of life in terms of homeostasis, the ability of information systems to build an inner world that buffers life against fluctuations in its external environment. Homeostasis can be thought of as a behavioral quality: having a large variety of responses to environmental changes. An ample repertoire of responses allows an organism to maintain its activities despite changes in its surroundings. Warm-blooded animals (homeotherms) like mammals and birds, for example, can remain active in winter when cold-blooded animals like insects and reptiles have to shut down. Humans stand at a peak of both information gathering and homeostasis. This chapter examines the drive toward homeostasis in both plants and animals, along with the human strategy of collecting information as a way to deal with fluctuations in the environment. It also discusses behavioral versatility and how it contributes to survival, the evolution of primates and their response to the increased unpredictability of the environment, developmental plasticity in plants, and the evolution of locomotion and circulation.

Keywords:   history of life, homeostasis, environmental changes, plants, animals, behavioral versatility, survival, evolution, primates, circulation

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