Animals can no longer be considered individuals in any sense of classical biology: anatomical, developmental, physiological, immunological, genetic, or evolutionary. Our bodies must be understood as holobionts whose anatomical, physiological, immunological, and developmental functions evolved in shared relationships of different species. Thus, the holobiont, with its integrated community of species, becomes a unit of natural selection whose evolutionary mechanisms suggest complexity hitherto largely unexplored. As Lewis Thomas commented when considering self and symbiosis: “This is, when you think about it, really amazing. The whole dear notion of one’s own Self—marvelous, old free-willed, free-enterprising, autonomous, independent, isolated island of a Self—is a myth.”

from A Symbiotic View of Life (2012)

Portrait of Scott Gilbert

Scott Gilbert

Evolutionary Developmental Biologist and Historian of Biology

Scott Frederick Gilbert is an American evolutionary developmental biologist and historian of biology. He is the Howard A. Schneiderman Professor of Biology (emeritus) at Swarthmore College and a Finland Distinguished Professor (emeritus) at the University of Helsinki.


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