Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

The fuzzy zone between exaptation and phenotypic adaptation

Eric Alden Smith a1
a1 Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3100


The target article adopts an adaptationist research strategy that, while logically coherent, suffers from various limitations, including problems in reconstructing past selective environments, ambiguity in how narrowly to define adaptive problems or selection pressures, and an overemphasis on specialization in evolved psychological mechanisms. To remedy these problems, I support a more flexible approach involving phenotypic adaptation and cultural evolution.