Chilean society of evolution (SOCEVOL) celebrates 10 years of life: "evolutionary biology: the mother of all battles"

Chilean society of evolution (SOCEVOL) celebrates 10 years of life: "evolutionary biology: the mother of all battles"


Born in the year 1809 in the United Kingdom, Charles Darwin is the most famous naturalists. Son of physician and grandson of the famous naturalist and poet Erasmus Darwin.

Since childhood he showed a deep interest in the reading of the works of the German Alexander von Humboldtwhich forged their attention by the natural sciences.

East 2016 207 years since his birth and 157 years of the publication of his famous book, dialed - in fact - are met a before and an after in the development of evolutionary thinking. His theory is - until today - essential to understand the origin and evolution of living beings, as explains how descend from a million years of evolutionary scale. Many of our current behaviors might respond to interactions that eventually we conduct in the past. In that sense, the world of evolutionism, owes much to who is one of its most important figures. The same than in his day, put into question current creationist, stressing the improbability that we have born under the eaves of a superior being, and distinguished itself from those who thought similar, not only remains true to this idea - that evolution is the mother of the vine a, but that also, insisting on living beings we develop a permanent evolutive activity and under that same line advocated a concept that he introduced, the "Natural selection".


In our country various scientists develop investigation linked about evolutionary aspects, and in that way, take charge of be able to decipher historical codes that the passing of the centuries has been dedicated to bury. Researchers are trying to reconfigure the past life of the species that preceded us to thus give answers to many questions.

The Chilean society of evolution (SOCEVOL,, is an example of the scientific work on this issue, since its Foundation, in 2006, it has been the Mission of facilitating the understanding of evolutionary biology in different spheres of the population. Explaining how operates the evolution and how it influences in the daily life of human beings.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the SOCEVOL, the biology society of Chile spoke with Dr. Eduardo Palma, first President of the society, and Dr. Christian Ibáñez, who currently chairs it.

Dr-eduardoDr. Eduardo Palma holds a PhD from the University of New Mexico, USA (1994); It has a post-doctoral fellow (University of Chile) with a specialization in molecular systematics, Phylogeography, biogeography and Mammalogy. He currently teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the Faculty of Sciences biological of the Pontifical University Catholic of Chile. Some of his works include history of Mammalogy in Chile (2014) and publications that relate the marsupial and living fossil, inhabitant of the forests of southern Chile and Argentina, Dromiciops gliroides (monito del monte) with the Australian marsupials.

Dr. Christian Ibáñez is a marine biologist, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción (2004); Doctor in Sciences, mention in ecology and evolutionary biology, Universidad de Chile (2010). Postdoctoral fellow of Fondecyt, University of Chile (2010-2012).

Dr-christianProfessional science currently offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the Department of ecology and biodiversity of the environment and natural resources faculty, Universidad Andrés Bello. Moreover, the researcher responsible of the project Fondecyt Regular: "Evolutionary biogeography of southeastern Pacific polyplacophorans".

The following is the interview that the Biological Society of Chile conducted with Doctors: Christian Ibáñez and Eduardo Palma.

What is the mission that the Chilean Society of Evolution keeps with the scientific and civic work of our country? and How did this Society originate?

Dr. Ibáñez: Our goals are three, and these ten years have not changed. First of all, we want to facilitate the understanding of evolutionary biology in different areas of Chilean society. It should be noted, that this society was created because of the need that existed at the time of a centre which would meet to all those who were working in evolution. On the other hand, seek to transmit the knowledge linked to evolution and its implications on the life of living beings, to elementary students, middle and College, contributing to the training of future professionals informed. Finally, we seek to provide a scientific opinion against issues that are involved in evolutionary aspects.

Dr. Palma: The original idea of the Chilean Society of Evolution arises around 2005 under the context of an Annual Meeting organized by the Society of Biology. On the occasion, a symposium on Phylogeography was held in which we were able to exchange ideas with some colleagues and set a meeting within the Biological Society to begin with the creation of SOCEVOL.

What is the degree of relevance and implication of Evolutionary Biology in basic and university education taught in our country?

Dr. Palma: The teaching of evolution is very present in Chilean scientific careers. In that sense, the University of Chile has a Master and Doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the same situation (or similar) is repeated in the Austral University of Chile, Concepción, Coquimbo and in the P. Catholic University of Chile. Therefore, that shows you that there is interest, and I perceive that day by day, since I am in charge of the undergraduate evolution course (PUC) and I can corroborate that there are more and more interested in this topic.

Dr. Ibáñez: In another aspect, I would like to mention that there is a problem in the curricula of regular courses of education, since the subject of evolution appears a couple of times in basic and secondary education, and the contents refer primarily to human evolution, which is only one chapter in evolutionary history. That's a problem that's hard for us since the people who do the programs are not within our society.

Dr. Palma: Symposia have been held on the teaching of Evolution in Chile, in primary and higher education. We want to return to that aspect and analyze what has happened in the last 10 years in this regard.

What is the relevance that falls on the figure of Charles Darwin in aspects of perception and dissemination of Evolution?

Dr. Ibáñez: Charles Darwin is among the 5 most famous scientists in the history of the human being, and his book "The Origin of Species" is one of the works that have most influenced humanity. Darwin is followed by characters such as Isaac Newton, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking himself. However, his figure has transcended because he is the father of this current, under which great thinkers and researchers have been trained. I want to note at this point that – fortunately – science scientists have always taught about evolution.

Dr. Palma: It should be noted – and around Darwin's idea – that SOCEVOL starts in 2007, very close to the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the naturalist, which was celebrated in 2009, along with the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book "The Origin of Species". In fact, our first lectures were commemorating Charles Darwin.

In short, I would like to say that we emerge at a momentous moment for global development.

Is Chile a favorable country for the study of evolution?

Dr. Palma: Chile is a natural laboratory – due to its geographical characteristics – to study evolution. You have ice fields, desert, sea and mountain range, so its biogeography (Alfred R. Wallace) is very interesting. On the other hand, the geography and biota of our country, particularly in the south-southern zone, were strongly affected by the cycles of glaciations that affected the Southern Cone of the planet, a process that not only affected terrestrial but also marine biota. Therefore, of course, Chile is a country that offers opportunities for micro and macro-evolutionary studies.

Dr. Ibáñez: The ocean in our country has different systems of currents, in the fjords there is less salt water product of the thaws, and in the north for example, there is the Humboldt Current system. This makes Chile a great biogeographic model for studying the evolution of marine organisms.

How can evolutionary knowledge be applied in sociological research, linked to the explanation of human behavior?

Dr. Ibáñez: The evolution of sociability and how social groups are organized began with the study of eusocial animals, such as ants, termites, and bees. Later, other more complex groups were incorporated.

Human evolution is a very interesting topic, from the paleontological point of view and answering how we have evolved until today, in which we are able to study our own genes, is a very challenging question. At present, human beings are dependent on the comforts we have been building, I speak of medical and pharmacological aspects that have helped our development.

Dr. Palma: The evolution of behavior is another chapter of human evolution. However, caution must be exercised with "Social Darwinism", which has been very misunderstood historically, especially through the idea of the "struggle for existence and survival of the fittest". These points are referred to the fact that within all the variation of traits and characteristics that organisms present, those who presented certain attributes for a given environment would be those who survived. As a society and as scientists we must take charge and teach correctly the concepts surrounding evolution.

Professional profiles:

Dr. Palma: My line of research is focused on the reconstruction of phylogenies (evolutionary history that has to do with the origins and evolutionary relationships of species diversity) and aspects of macro and micro evolution. My study models are the land mammals of Chile and the rest of South America; Additionally, my work includes aspects of phylogeography and biogeography. Within mammals, we have worked preferably rodents (which is the most diverse group within mammals), and marsupials, of which we have a living fossil in the forests of southern Chile and Argentina.

In these investigations we use molecular and morphological tools, which provide a lot of information, especially in studies of phylogenies and geographical variation.

Dr. Ibáñez: I work at macro and micro evolutionary levels. Lately focused on aspects of macro-evolution, especially on how reproductive strategies evolve in marine invertebrates.

We are also studying evolutionary biogeography, fusing that knowledge with molecular tools and fieldwork. We have been studying polyplacophore molluscs, and in reproductive aspects, cephalopods.

Finalmente los Doctores hacen una invitación a toda la comunidad a celebrar esta década de existencia de la Sociedad Chilena de Evolución, participando de los simposios que se dictarán en la LIX Reunión Anual de la Sociedad de Biología, que se efectuará desde el 8 al 10 de noviembre en el “Hippocampus Resort & Club”, Concón.

Dr. Palma and Dr. Ibáñez: Under the context of the celebration of the 10 years of SOCEVOL and our participation in the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biology, we open the invitation to participate in this instance in which we have scheduled 2 symposia We are waiting for you!

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Patricio Grunert Alarcón. ®
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