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Scholar
Original Poster
#1 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 2:10 PM
Default Is human being the last step of evolution ?
Are we the Ultimate Achievement in evolution ? (We made it ! We win !)
Is actual human race a link between our ancestors and something about to come ? (Then what is about to come ?)
Is human being a dead end, an experiment from Nature bound to disappear... soon ? (like the dinosaurs did)

In general, my perspectives are quite pessimistic. In short, it seems that running towards a dead end human being is demonstrating that he is a dead end.
An evolution jump is always possible but highly speculative, I keep it for the rare bright optimistic days...

Attention ! This debate is not for creationism vs evolutionism. It's premise is that evolution is a fact.
(And, if possible, try to not to turn it into another homosexuality debate.)
Thank you.
Pix.

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Mad Poster
#2 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 3:36 PM
Personally, I believe that if it's a case of evolution then the human race, and the others species too, are bound to evolve continuously, just like they did since the first living cell appeared on earth. On the other hand, evolution also means survival of the fittest, so who knows, maybe in a million years from now, the human race would evolve into something very different, but I wouldn't be so sure on that if we listen to what vegan dieting principles are saying that people digest most easily unprepared food like the type eaten by our pre-historic ancestors which means that biologically we haven't evolved that much.

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Mad Poster
staff: retired moderator
#3 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 3:45 PM Last edited by kiwi_tea : 13th Mar 2012 at 4:13 PM.
There's no such thing as an "ultimate achievement" of evolution. Evolution doesn't have a "goal" any more than plate tectonics or earthquakes have a "goal", they're just natural processes.

I don't even know what you mean by "evolution jump". What's your understanding of evolution, Pixelhate? The whole premise of this topic seems to assume things about evolution (ie. it has a goal/humans might suddenly undergo an evolutionary "jump" whatever that might mean) that by my understanding of biology make no sense. What makes you think humans are evolving into a corner? It's not like we're great pandas and have evolved to eat a vegetable food source that's (a) disappearing alongside habitat (b) extremely difficult to digest with a carnivore's stomach. That humans are threatened is just not borne out by any evidence at all, we're an extremely successful species and still we have the capacity (though not the political system) to avoid or mitigate environmental catastrophe. Even if the worst comes to the worst, we breed like rabbits and we're highly adaptable and highly mobile.

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Scholar
Original Poster
#4 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 4:05 PM Last edited by Pixelhate : 13th Mar 2012 at 4:31 PM.
Crocobaura, in the process of evolution, they're branches that disappear totally due to major natural catastrophes or sudden inappropriateness in a changing world. (Dinosaurs, Neanderthal (although this is less clear with recent discoveries) Could we be next on the list ?
Despite our technological advancement, as you says "we haven't evolved that much". Are we still adapted for this world ?
What could be the next step in evolution for us to stay "in" ?

@ Kiwi_tea: I don't think there's a goal in evolution but I can see a direction : evolution is building up complexity.
Maybe the word "goal" isn't fitting (English is not my first language), would "purpose" fit better ? (I can see the purpose of plate tectonics or earthquakes : it releases physic tension in the system.) In any case it doesn't mean that there's a will behind.

The premise of this topic is : evolution is a fact.
In the post I gave three questions in a caricatural ways that are supposed to cover different opinions about how succeful we are as species in this process.

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Scholar
#5 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 4:36 PM Last edited by Oaktree : 13th Mar 2012 at 11:41 PM.
We aren't adapting so much by evolution anymore, as we are by social evolution. Our technology allows us to adapt, and quite a bit faster than normal evolution would. I still wouldn't say that we are an "ultimate achievement", because there is no goal to evolution, but, at least compared to other large mammals (typically the first species to die out in a major catastrophe/climate change), we've got a lot of staying power.

EDIT: Okay, now I think I see why I've been downvoted. I didn't say that humans aren't evolving anymore, I just said they weren't doing it as much, and that social evolution is taking over to a large extent. Our DNA is mutating at approximately the same rate as it always has, so our genetic diversity is in no way being reduced or remaining stagnant, but there is little pressure for a large portion of the population to have a particular mutation, as most of our problems are solved by our technology.

It might be nice if everyone had the mutation making them immune to AIDS, but a combination of preventive measures and better medication makes it possible to live and pass on your genes even if you have the disease, and certainly if you don't have the mutation making you immune. Those of us who aren't particularly well insulated don't die out from living in colder climates because we have technology that can help us survive or move to better climates. If we don't stop pressuring the evolution of superbugs, we may find ourselves with a need for genetic adaption sometime in the relatively near future, but the vast majority of changes that are happening in our world are easily mitigated by technology. Not to mention mitigated much faster than evolution would allow, allowing our population to remain high, rather than taking a drastic hit when some new threat starts killing people. Whether it's a good thing that our population is so high is a topic for another thread, but, unless we kill ourselves, it looks like we're around to stay for quite some time.
Mad Poster
#6 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 6:40 PM Last edited by crocobaura : 13th Mar 2012 at 6:53 PM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oaktree
We aren't adapting so much by evolution anymore, as we are by social evolution. Our technology allows us to adapt, and quite a bit faster than normal evolution would. I still wouldn't say that we are an "ultimate achievement", because there is no goal to evolution, but, at least compared to other large mammals (typically the first species to die out in a major catastrophe/climate change), we've got a lot of staying power.



I read somewhere something like "Humans are no longer adapting themselves to their environment, but rather adapting the environment to suit their needs". We are growing socially but this is probably only due to increased knowledge and better lifestyle. I suppose pandas would be thriving too if they found the means to adjust their environment in a suitbale way. In case of a catastrophic climate change, people might be able to survive not necessarily by biological evolution but due to their accumulated knowledge and manipulation of their environment variables. Also, because we are really widespread all over the world and have a rather varied diet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelhate
Crocobaura, in the process of evolution, they're branches that disappear totally due to major natural catastrophes or sudden inappropriateness in a changing world. (Dinosaurs, Neanderthal (although this is less clear with recent discoveries) Could we be next on the list ?
Despite our technological advancement, as you says "we haven't evolved that much". Are we still adapted for this world ?
What could be the next step in evolution for us to stay "in" ?


We are somewaht adapted for our current world. Not sure if any sudden and dramatic changes would find us prepared to deal with them. Also, not sure that if such changes occured we would be able to "evolve" fast enough to survive them. We seem to have compensated for some missing biological evolution with advancements in science. We cannot see in the dark and thus invented night goggles, we can't survive in the arctic regions naturally, so we cam up with fur coats. In the end I guess it all depends on how qucikly we can adapt to the changes.

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Mad Poster
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13th Mar 2012 at 6:52 PM
This message has been deleted by crocobaura.
Mad Poster
staff: retired moderator
#7 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 7:24 PM
Quote:
I read somewhere something like "Humans are no longer adapting themselves to their environment, but rather adapting the environment to suit their needs".


Yeah, people say nonsense like this in the media all the time, but there are still HUGE selection pressures bearing down on the human population, driving evolution as much as it's ever been driven. Viruses are killing those susceptible to them and not killing those humans that are less susceptible, humans with more money learn broader skill sets and have access to better healthcare than humans who live in poverty, and so those people in poverty are being selected against at the same time as they are rapidly outbreeding the affluent. Humans are evolving - there's no mechanism by which we could stop evolving, barring extinction. You don't SEE it happening because it's just part of our lives, and it's so gradual, but it's silly to say we might have "stopped" or that we're suddenly "pushing back" against evolution. Any "push back" we imagine we make is only evolution in progress down a different track, we're still part of the world, not outside looking in.

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Mad Poster
#8 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 7:32 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelhate
Are we the Ultimate Achievement in evolution ? (We made it ! We win !)
Is actual human race a link between our ancestors and something about to come ? (Then what is about to come ?)


Is this meant to be amusing? Evolution isn't about a one step process from this to that to this, it's about the development of heritable abilities and qualities. There is no ultimate somewhere something, there is simply this and that human that spreads their qualities through their generations that thereby evolve whether or not it benefits them, indefinitely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelhate
Is human being a dead end, an experiment from Nature bound to disappear... soon ? (like the dinosaurs did)


Why would they dissipate into thin air soon?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixelhate
Attention ! This debate is not for creationism vs evolutionism. It's premise is that evolution is a fact.
(And, if possible, try to not to turn it into another homosexuality debate.)
Thank you.
Pix.

What is the purpose of this? Anyway.... humans are all evolving differently and in very mixed ways, take a look at different people. They're also evolving via their technology. There is no real purpose other than for fun. There is no ultimate achievement.

I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT.
Scholar
Original Poster
#9 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 7:40 PM
"Humans are no longer adapting themselves to their environment, but rather adapting the environment to suit their needs"

That's a key point for me.

By doing so, human is making a premičre in the history of evolution. No other species have done that before.
Some may consider this as an achievement, while others may view it as a fail if the adaptations made by humans goes off control and cause the environment to change so drastically and rapidly that it won't be possible to adapt biologically.

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Mad Poster
staff: retired moderator
#10 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 7:46 PM
Quote:
By doing so, human is making a premičre in the history of evolution. No other species have done that before.


But the environment within which humans exist is still driving their evolution. And plenty of other species have adapted their environment to their needs, tool use is common in the animal kingdom - a termite mound is an example of a species "adapting its environment" to itself. Our capacity to change things may be more complex, but that doesn't stop us evolving, it simply pushes evolution in slightly different directions. As a species, even with our technological prowess, we don't have a lot of control over our evolution, even given how many people we're saving through modern medicine, etc.

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Scholar
Original Poster
#11 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 8:00 PM
@ KKiryu007Joker: While its intro was indeed supposed to be amusing (and some found it funny), this discussion is serious to me. I'm just hoping to read interesting views on that matter so I can feed my ongoing thinking...

@ Kiwi_tea : It's a question of scale. Plus it seems to me the termite, like other animals are adapting themselves to the environment by creating nests, while many human activities change the balance.

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Mad Poster
#12 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 10:35 PM
Kiwi Tea is right, there's no such thing as a goal for evolution. In fact, there's no such thing as progress or increasing complexity either - there's just adapted to the environment or not and having to adapt or die out. How would you measure success anyway? Crocodiles are pretty much the same animal they were in the dinosaur age (and before). They haven't changed much but remained well-adapted to the environment they inhabit. Is it because they aren't too intelligent? You think being intelligent is an evolutionary success? Why? It is for us maybe but not the crocodile and they've been around, very successfully, much longer than we have. So why is it better?

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Mad Poster
#13 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 11:00 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi_tea
Yeah, people say nonsense like this in the media all the time, but there are still HUGE selection pressures bearing down on the human population, driving evolution as much as it's ever been driven. Viruses are killing those susceptible to them and not killing those humans that are less susceptible, humans with more money learn broader skill sets and have access to better healthcare than humans who live in poverty, and so those people in poverty are being selected against at the same time as they are rapidly outbreeding the affluent. Humans are evolving - there's no mechanism by which we could stop evolving, barring extinction. You don't SEE it happening because it's just part of our lives, and it's so gradual, but it's silly to say we might have "stopped" or that we're suddenly "pushing back" against evolution. Any "push back" we imagine we make is only evolution in progress down a different track, we're still part of the world, not outside looking in.



This is a good example of adaptation to the environment. Poor people, who are prone to diseases and famine will procreate in excess to compensate for the short survival rate. Those with money, will procreate less because their survival rate is greater. On the other hand, by creating complex medicines and vaccines, genetically engineered food, complex arhitectural structures, people are no longer at the mercy of environmental afflictions, so evolution works a bit differently with them. We are not evolving nor breeding at the same rate as the rest of species in the world. People are destroying other species habitats and claiming them for their own use and, at this rate, will one day find that the earth is not enough for their needs and there's nothing they can do to cheat their way out of this situation.

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Forum Resident
#14 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 11:27 PM
If we are the Ultimate Achievement in evolution then we're also the Ultimate fail...... But really evolution is an ongoing thing that'll never stop utill we reach our demise as a race, there's never a sudden visible jump. It goes on so slowly that we can never notice unless we look back a few hundred years.
I don't understand your meaning of a 'dead end'. That can only come with our extinction, though with all of the astroids around us, diminishing resources, cold war and self destruction our 'dead end' may not be that far off......
But asuming we're not extinct in a couple o hundreed year's how can we adapt with today's enviroment? Get thicker arses...... All this sitting we do with todays 'technological advancement, networking and such' will surely give us thick, leathery hides I'm also with Neil Gaimen and Pixar on WALL·E..... FAT.

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Test Subject
#15 Old 13th Mar 2012 at 11:43 PM
My personal view is this; humans have an amazing brain. Unlike most animals, we don't have an amazing sense of smell, sight, strength or really much else for that matter. The one thing we do have is intelligence. I think our intelligence will be the undoing of our race. We tend to get arrogant and think we can do whatever the hell we want when in reality we're polluting our environment and not only ours but our food source as well. To me, unless the human race learns that yes, while we are more intelligent this doesn't mean we can do whatever we want just because we can, we won't have much of a future to evolve to. I realize my view on this borderlines on what this topic is actually about, but I feel that our intelligence is a serious hindrance to us being able to evolve into anything "better". While intelligence may be seen as "better", is it really? I think the census on this is out as we don't have any other known intelligent life to compare ourselves with and maybe there's a reason for this.
Alchemist
#16 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 8:58 AM
if i could get past the implied sheer amount of arrogance in the notion that we are somehow "the highest rung on the ladder"...i could answer this topic with more substance and style.


for now, here's my immediate reaction:




if this is supposed to be the pinnacle of evolution...i have officially lost all faith in nature.
ALL OF MY FAITH. *eye twitch*

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Field Researcher
#17 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 9:28 AM
Reminds me of the film 'Idiocracy'. Terrible film, I know, but does make the point that in first world countries, where the poor are supported with financial handouts, food tokens etc, the poor are still breeding faster (sometimes just to gain more benefits). The higher classes are waiting till later in life to have children, having less due to financial/career choices or just aren't at all. This means in these countries 'survival of the fittest' won't work in the same way. Intelligence will be bred out. Obviously I'm not saying that all poor people are stupid but anyone with half a brain would want to support their existing children before having more. So in a few hundred years these countries will be run by idiots (assuming they're not now - but we won't go into that). Perhaps a little controversial but my opinion is that morals, common decency and selflessness have been on their way out for a long time.
Anyway my point is that perhaps we already reached the optimal evolutionary point and it's started on it's downward spiral already... just a thought to throw in there. :D
Instructor
#18 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 10:02 AM
I think a lot of you are responding not to the content of his posts but his presentation. It takes a certain mindset to really get what he's asking and implying.

"Are we the Ultimate Achievement in evolution ? (We made it ! We win !)"

Basically a hypothetical, not a claim. He's asking what comes next? What is the future of our genetic line. Will we become defunct (die out as a species due to cataclysm or what have you) or survive in another form until homo sapiens becomes more akin to homo erectus. It's asking for an opinion. My guess is if given room to expand into different worlds with different ecosystems and we were separated from long space travel times yes there could be speciation. (BTW, spell check that IS a word and your coding needs to evolve to recognize it!)

"In general, my perspectives are quite pessimistic. In short, it seems that running towards a dead end human being is demonstrating that he is a dead end.
An evolution jump is always possible but highly speculative, I keep it for the rare bright optimistic days..."


Like they said it's not really described as jumps for a very good reason. But I can see where you would get that idea. Pop culture about the issue can really muddle it up. But in general as long as the species can continue to reproduce there is no dead end. The only dead end is a cataclysmic event which would probably have to take out the entire world ecosystem to effect us. Something like a black hole passing by our Solar System (trust me, not as awesome as Muse implies.) Or possibly a gamma ray burst from a dying star going supernova. (Also not as neat as they are in songs and media when they go through your planet)

Excerpt from Wiki:
"For example, if WR 104 were to hit Earth with a burst of 10 seconds duration, its gamma rays could deplete about 25 percent of the world's ozone layer. It would create mass extinction, food chain depletion and starvation. The side of Earth facing the GRB would receive potentially lethal radiation exposure, which can cause radiation sickness in the short term, and in the long term result in serious impacts to life through ozone layer depletion.[89]"


Ozone is good guize. Well, when it's at the right levels and made of the right stuff. This is all very scientific.

So yes, we as a species have every possibility of no longer existing. In fact when you take into consideration either the heat death of the universe or the big crunch models... Yeah, sentient life is pretty damn epic but compare it to non sentient, non living matter and you realize how very fleeting and peculiar it is. This is a good thing for us in the short term but the long term... The look at the bloody forest and see you are about as significant as the ant crawling it's way across the floor to a destination hardwired by species survival and it will give you a new perspective. We are not different than the ant, just more successful, for now. When even history is gone, what will be the point in all this shit anyway?

So I say, yay to personal morality and determination 'cause it's the only thing that's ever going to matter to you. The rest of society can be wrong. You can be right. And everything is over in a blink of an eye so make it count. This is my long ass rambling as all hell motto/raison d'etre. Hope it answered your prompt.
Scholar
Original Poster
#19 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 11:39 AM Last edited by Pixelhate : 14th Mar 2012 at 12:17 PM.
In short, I understand evolution as a change in traits of a population of organisms over time, due to a number of mechanisms and processes (gene mutation, gene mixing, ... )

If these changes provide an advantage in a certain environment, they will tend to spread, if not they will tend to disappear by natural selection.

Some minimal mutation on homeotic (sp?) genes can result in individuals very different from their parents. Most of the time they don't survive but it is probable that some "evolution jump" have been done that way.

Evolution is moving toward complexity : from unicellular to multicellular, from multi-usage organs to specialised organs, from parthenogenesis to sexual reproduction ..

The development of the pre frontal cortex and frontal lobes in primates and especially in humans is part of the evolution process. The pre-frontal cortex carries out functions that include planning, working memory, motivation, attention, and executive control.

The late comer, human is a pretty gifted species by nature. With a lot of potential, for sure. (achievement metaphor)
Now what have we done so far with it ?

Producing weapons of mass destruction, modifying an environment up to the climate that took thousands of years to settle, accelerating the extinction of many species that are part of the actual balance (bees), producing tons of highly lethal toxic waste that will last for three hundred thousands years, introducing mutated genes in food and life forms with no idea of long term consequences. In short creating many possibilities for us to be in critical position regarding the future... (dead end metaphor)

It just makes me wonder about our "qualification" as evolved, adapted or successful species.



@SP I've seen many ways to f**k it up but that's a nice short cut. Human is sooo imaginative..

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Lab Assistant
#20 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 12:03 PM
Well I think evolution is an ongoing process.
It is vain to think we understand everything about is, the capacity of our Minds is restricted, when humans disappear the gap will be filled some way or another, so I would say no it is just an episode in the history of living beings.

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Lab Assistant
#21 Old 14th Mar 2012 at 9:40 PM
@Pixelhate

As a biology major, I've always been taught that a species should not be judged by its complexity. Any species that continues to survive is successful, there isn't such a thing as being 'more' successful than another species.

Humans are interesting in terms of what we've managed to do however, I won't argue with that. But even if we are changing our environment, as opposed to it changing us, couldn't that be considered a form of evolution? If our ancestors are totally or partially dependent on technology for day-to-day life, do we still consider them to be our exact species?
Top Secret Researcher
#22 Old 15th Mar 2012 at 1:56 AM
Evolution is simply the description of the statistical results of breeding over time among populations. It doesn't matter if it's being influenced, externally or internally. It does not matter what the species is like, be it a squid or a hominid or a bacterial infection. It's not even concerned if there are any changes over time, because it's descriptive and lack of change is descriptive too. Unless we disappear as a species entirely thanks to some catastrophe, or we somehow abandon breeding as a means of sustaining the species, I think we're safe from removing ourselves from participation in evolutionary processes.

Are we a link between what has come before and what will come in the future? Of course we are. Everything is, from the Big Bang to the formation of the Solar System, the same basic components that destroy galaxies and burn inside the hearts of suns are inside us and every single thing living or otherwise on the planet. We're on the long, slow path of watching the universe evaporate as its expansion continues forever and everything that ever is and ever was is eventually too far apart as to be considered together, entropy nailing the coffin shut upon the heat death of everything. So yeah, the whole universe has an expiration date. I wouldn't throw away the milk yet though, there's a lot of time between then and now.
Inventor
#23 Old 18th Mar 2012 at 10:51 AM
I don't believe there ever will be an ultimate being at the finish line of evolution. There will never be a finish line to evolution, and if there actually is one, I doubt any solar system would reach that point due to the lifespan of stars and general assault against planets.
Instructor
#24 Old 25th Mar 2012 at 2:15 AM
We might be the most intelligent beings on this planet but that is nothing to boost about, we also have a lot of stupidity in us. Nature didn't do herself any favors letting us evolve.
We are a flawed species and we think we are the be all and end all, we are so arrogant that some even think we are the only intelligent life form in the entire universe.

We reproduce like rabbits and kill indiscriminately, we kill other species who have lived here for millions of years, we kill each other and we slowly killing this planet...it's our home and we are destroying it.
Will we evolve any further? Who knows... but if we do I hope it's in the direction of showing some restraint, less reproduction, less greed and hate.

But I suspect we will go on as we are, eventually we will outgrow this planet, if we become extinct it will be by our own hands through stupidity and greed and what do we leave behind as our legacy?

A destroyed planet and extinction of all species, not something to be proud of.

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Test Subject
#25 Old 27th Mar 2012 at 2:56 AM
While humans (Homo sapiens) are fairly recent in terms of the history of evolution, I don’t think we are the last step, nor are we the “end”. We are present with a plethora of species of different kingdoms. We are just so aware that we tend to think of ourselves as being apart from other mammals as if we are from a separate kingdom entirely. However, common sense disproves that.

Speaking of the awareness… I think part that causes us to believe it’s all coming to an end when in reality, we are just a single step on the evolutionary ladder. Gene mutations are occurring all the time—consider people born with super memory or computational skills—these are evolutionary steps. Mutations in genes may not present themselves in the phenotype, so we non-scientists tend to disregard their occurrences. Pessimism does play a part in prophesying the end-times. Let’s not talk about how religion has influenced this thought…

I’m currently reading the book The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. It’s clearing up many of the matters I didn’t understand before. Now, I’m not saying this book has all of the answers; reading this, like any other book, should be approached objectively. However, it does contain helpful metaphors, scientific data, and examples to elucidate evolutionary phenomena. I especially like to refer to one example—the explanation of evolution in terms that refute essentialism: “Descendants can depart indefinitely from the ancestral form, and each departure becomes a potential ancestor to future variants” (Dawkins, 2009, p.22).

The anecdote begins with a discussion of essentialism, as if there is a “standard” animal for each species. In terms of evolution, this view is incorrect because animals are continuously evolving. Dawkins uses the rabbit line for an example:
Quote:
Take a [female] rabbit... Now place the grandmother next to the mother and so on back in time, back…through the megayears, a seemingly endless line of female rabbits, each one sandwiched between her daughter and her mother. We walk along the line of rabbits, backwards in time, examining them carefully like an inspecting general.

…Steadily and imperceptibly, as we retreat through time, we shall reach ancestors that look less and less like a rabbit and more and more like a shrew (and not very like either). One of these creatures I’ll call the hairpin bend [between rabbit and leopard]. We don’t know what it looks like, but it follows from an evolutionary view that it definitely had to exist. Like all animals, it was a member of the same species as its daughters and its mother. We now continue our walk, except we have turned the bend in the hairpin and are walking forwards in time, aiming towards the leopards (among the hairpin’s many and diverse descendants, for we shall continually meet forks in the line, where we consistently choose the fork that will eventually lead to leopards) (pp. 24-25).


It helps to think of evolution in the way this book describes it. We have a common ancestor; say a single organism, that all forms of life evolved from. Thus, humans are not descended from chimps; rather, we are distant cousins of chimps. Likewise, rabbits did not evolve from leopards, but share a common ancestor with the leopard. The reason we can say this is that humans, chimps, rabbits, and leopards are all modern animals. They exist today, right now.

Personally, I believe humans are still evolving. And me? I want gills—let’s all meet back in the water. Whales and dolphins did it, why can’t we? (*the ancestors of these modern animals are believed to have ventured onto land (for a new habitat) and then came back into the water at least once).

Reference:

Dawkins, R. (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth. Great Britain: Bantam Press an imprint of Transworld Publishers.
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