Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Extended Phenotype

Controversial concept expounded in a book The Extended Phenotype (1992) by Richard Dawkins in which he argues that restricting the idea of the phenotype to apply only to the phenotypic expression of an organism’s own genes is arbitrary, and suggests that a gene may have an effect on an organism’s environment through that organism’s behavior. In exploring the book’s subtitle (the long reach of the gene), he suggests that not only animal morphology, but that ultimately gene-centered animal behavior, is part of one’s phenotype. Finally, he argues that the phenotype is not advantageous to the animal itself, but rather to the parasitic or selfish DNA that created it.

See sociobiology.

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