Eörs Szathmáry

Eörs Szathmáry


Dept of Plant Systematics, Ecology and Theoretical BiologyBiological InstituteEötvös University1c Pázmány Péter sétány H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E%C3%B6rs_Szathm%C3%A1ry

"The major transitions through evolutionary history "

The list of major evolutionary transitions as presented in 1995 has investigated the phenomemon of major reorganisations in individualized life along two key dimensions: reproduction and inheritance. Major transitions in individuality mean that independently reproducing individuals unite to form a higher-level unit of evolution. Transitions in heredity mean radical changes in how hereditary information is stored, used and transmitted. Remarkably, these transitions go hand in hand despite the fact that one or the other type might seem more obvious for a concrete case. The updated version of the theory contains other types of transition: limited, recursive, repeated and filial. Whereras the well-known transitions entail de-darwinization of some lower evolutionary level, filial transitions add a new Darwinian level by intercalation: the origin of adaptive immunity and possibly some aspects of the origin of the nervous system belong to this letter category.


Eörs works as a Professor at Biological Institute, Eötvös University, Budapest and Leader at the Evolutionary Systems Research Group, Ecological Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Tihany/Budapest.

1984 Ms.S., Biology, Eötvös University, Budapest. Thesis: Dynamical coexistence in prebiotic systems

1987 Ph.D, Ecology, Eötvös University, Budapest. Thesis: The roots of individual organization

1987-88 Postdoctoral scholarship with John Maynard Smith, The University of Sussex, Brighton

1987-1995 Research fellow, Dept of Plant taxonomy and Ecology, Eötvös University, Budapest

1991-92 Research fellow, Laboratory of Mathematical Biology, National Institute of Medical Research, London

1992-93 Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study Berlin

1994 Guest professor, Institute of Zoology, University of Zürich, Switzerland

1994-95 Fellow, Collegium Budapest (Institute for Advanced Study)

1995-2011 Permanent fellow, Collegium Budapest (Institute for Advanced Study)

1995-1997 Associate professor, Dept of Plant taxonomy and Ecology, Eötvös University, Budapest

1995-2002 Head of department and Ph. D. programme in theoretical biology and ecology, Dept of Plant taxonomy and Ecology, Eötvös University, Budapest

1995 D. Sc. (Doctor of the Hungarian Academy)

1997 Professor of biology, Dept of Plant taxonomy and Ecology, Eötvös University, Budapest

2012-2017 Director, Parmenides Center for the Conceptual Foundations of Science, Pullach; Guest professor, Faculty of Biology, Ludwig Maximilans University, München


  • mathematical description of some phases of early evolution
  • scenario for the origin of the genetic code
  • analysis of epistasis in terms of metabolic control theory
  • demonstration of the selection consequences of parabolic growth
  • derivation of the optimal size of the genetic alphabet
  • general framework to discuss the major transitions in evolution
  • questions of open-ended evolution
  • evolution and learning
  • Darwinian neurodynamics

Relevant organizations

President, IOSEB (International Organization for Systematic and Evolutionary Biology, 1996-2002).