Abstract: It is generally assumed that there is a positive correlation between the complexity of functional adaptive systems and the intensity and duration of natural selection driving their evolution. Although the role of selection is unquestionable, especially with respect to functional correspondences between organism and environment, the correlation with functional complexity is not so clear. The recent resurgence of interest in the contribution of epigenetic processes to the course of evolutionary change, popularly known as evodevo, has begun to focus attention on other potential sources of complex integration: that is, the self-organizing and intraselection processes that are recruited by evolution to serve epigenetic functions. This chapter reviews evidence for a general evolutionary logic that the chapter calls the “Lazy Gene” e- ect, which suggests that genes will tend to o. oad control of morphogenetic processes to epigenetic mechanisms in evolution whenever reliable extragenomic constraints or infl uences can induce the same e- ect. The chapter also explores an example of this e- ect that is particularly relevant to language evolution: a case of birdsong change under the infl uence of artifi cial breeding for an unrelated trait.

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