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Adaption and Extinction...

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Source: Internet Movie Database

 

Topics: Biology, Climate Change, Existentialism, Philosophy, Politics


Though the movie poster is an attempt at dark humor, I do agree with the science. We're in a time of our history where science is being suborned to political and economic considerations, when we need it literally for survival.


From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as devolution. All changes in the gene frequencies of populations--and quite often in the traits those genes influence--are by definition evolutionary changes. The notion that humans might regress or "devolve" presumes that there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function--say, that legs with feet are better than legs with hooves or that breathing with lungs is better than breathing with gills. But for the organisms possessing those structures, each is a useful adaptation.

Chief among these misconceptions is that species evolve or change because they need to change to adapt to shifting environmental demands; biologists refer to this fallacy as teleology. In fact, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, so clearly there is no requirement that species always adapt successfully. As the fossil record demonstrates, extinction is a perfectly natural--and indeed quite common--response to changing environmental conditions. When species do evolve, it is not out of need but rather because their populations contain organisms with variants of traits that offer a reproductive advantage in a changing environment.

 

Is the human race evolving or devolving? July 20, 1998, Scientific American

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