I'd be grateful if someone could clear this question up for me.

While I understand evolution as a very slow process combining random changes under the inspection of natural selection, there are some phenomena in nature that I just can seem to grasp developing by evolution alone.

1.When born, kangaroos crawl out from their mother's womb and into the pocket at the front of her stomach. The infant "knows" where to crawl. How can evolution explain this?

2.The Japanese "nylon eating" Flavobacterium, which adapted to their surroundings and began digesting what was available. I wonder, of all the possible random mutations occurring from generation to generation, even before natural selection kicks in, what are the odds of the development of genes specifically digesting nylon?
Is there another secondary mechanism besides evolution at play here? Or am I missing something?


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VERY well stated!
Doone, thanks for the detailed replies, however, i don't think they answer my question.
as Daniel Smith put it - "in this case the odds are 1:1"
I wasn't asking whether it happened- obviously it did, and neither for the genetic process in which it happened.
I'm asking whether the genetic change in an organism's DNA in these specific cases can really be explained by evolution,  a random variance overseen by natural selection..."
i understand that genetic mutation took place accommodating for a different diet.
however - of the millions of different possible mutations, why even conceive nylon digestion? why not grow wings (i'm deliberately exaggerating), eyes, a second anus? any one of gazillion different possible mutations? why adapt specifically to nylon when chance has it- you live in a nylon rich environment?
couldn't it be that we're eventually to discover a second process working alongside evolution? like awareness of genes to their surroundings?

as i noted myself on the wings and eyes- i was exaggerating, for a lack of a better example.

it just seems to me that of all the possible mutations, even the fact that only "one" bacteria experienced the "correct" random mutation and adapted to nylon  - is itself astonishing.

Doone, I still don't understand how this is possible?  Out of that number above, 5 x 10 ^30 , that means only ONE bacterium out of that enormous number needs to have a random mutation which allows it to digest nylon?  


It makes no sense.  The odds are against the bacterium in every way.  


(Just kidding doone and Wassabi!)  


I just learned something ... I have trillions of little bacteria babies in my intestines.  Yummy.  



are you amazed by bacteria that do other things? Like live in our intestines or inside volcanoes and steam geysers? It seems that you are concerned with nylon as a synthetic substance and so has to be somehow different but as doone has already shown it is no more amazing than bacteria feeding on anything else, even if it is more unusual to us right now. Lots of nylon+being able to eat nylon=lots of baby bacteria.


As for kangaroos, we seem monkeys instictually cling to thier mother, all mammals instictively suckle. It doesnt seem like a stretch that at some point in the past a genetic mutation led to slightly more loose skin around kangaroo nipple which protected or cradled the joey. A trait that could be selected for over time since it led to better young survival. I have no idea if this is the proposed evolutionary path but you get the idea.

If no one can provide a thesis or other research data regarding the roo pouch evolution, I'm ok with just saying that a Unicorn simply designed it into the DNA 6k years ago, and we don't have to ask that question any more. Or just email the Director of Scienciness at the Vatican.

How likely is it for a bacterium to evolve an appetite for nylon? Very, very, very unlikely. But for bacteria multiplying fairly quickly into the billions, multiply those tiny chances by billions. (Doone answered it the best.)

"a Unicorn simply designed it into the DNA 6k years ago, and we don't have to ask that question any more"


this was not an "intelligent design" question...

rather i was wondering something else.


is there such a thing as genetic memory? something that would explain how the roo "knows" where to go?


on one hand, we have instincts, on the other, if you take an animal grown in captivity and put it back in the wild, it will starve.


so which is it? genetic or taught by parents?

i have to tell you, you've probably been answering creationists for so long you can't tell the difference between a troll and a curious person...


please be a bit less haste when jumping to conclusions....

so which is it? genetic or taught by parents?


Hmm, now I detect sarcasm. I mean, no way it can be "taught", right? Perhaps I did misunderstand what you're looking for.




the answers i got here were satisfactory. a joey making his way to the mother's pouch is no more remarkable than chimps latching on to their mothers, or blind puppies making their way towards a mother's tit.


similarly, i've read that baby seagulls are attracted to the color orange, which directs them towards their mother's mouth.


i do wonder how this innate attraction developed in the first place. 

because- no, i don' think you can teach it. it has to be an innate instinct.


how in the world would you teach a just now born joey towards the pouch? you can't. it has to be in there already. and it's curious how that might have developed. 


and once again. I AM NOT A THEIST IN DISGUISE. i think i've written on this site long enough to show for it.




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