In {1}, Richard Dawkins attributes a quote to Sydney Brenner without giving a citation. I'm preparing a publication on the same topic and if possible I would like to track down the original reference for the quote. Does anyone know the work (if it exists) in which Brenner made the argument Dawkins refers to?

Here is the text from Dawkins' paper where it is mentioned:

It is all too easy for this kind of argument to be used loosely and unrespectably. Sydney Brenner justly ridiculed the idea of foresight in evolution, specifically in the notion that a molecule, useless to a lineage of organisms in its own geological era, might nevertheless be retained in the gene pool because of its possible usefulness in some future era: "It might come in handy in the Cretaceous!" I hope I shall not be taken as saying anything like that.

Edit: it looks quite likely that this is referring to something Dawkins heard Brenner say, rather than anything that can be cited. There is a footnote in {2} that reads:

...Brenner... has a sardonic wit to match his scientific brilliance. I once heard him lampoon the 'evolutionary foresight' fallacy by imagining a species in the Cambrian that retained in its gene pool an otherwise useless protein, because 'It might come in handy in the Cretaceous.'

So it seems likely that there is no citable source for the quote besides Dawkins' paper, but in any case it would be useful to know if there is a pre-1988 publication in which Brenner made a similar argument.

{1} Richard Dawkins (1988) The Evolution of Evolvability. In C. Langton (Ed.) Artificial Life, SFI Studies in the Science of Complexity. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

{2} Richard Dawkins (2009) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Random House.


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