Something Nelson would post... :P

...And I mean that in a good way. Very informative.

Evolution

* Biological evolution does not address the origin of life; for that, see abiogenesis. The two are commonly and mistakenly conflated. Evolution describes (and through the theory of evolution, endeavors to explain) the changes in gene frequencies that occur in populations of living organisms over time, and thus, presupposes that life already exists. Evolution likewise says nothing about cosmology, the Big Bang, or the origins of the universe.

* The word "theory" in "the theory of evolution" does not imply doubt in mainstream science regarding its validity; the words "theory" and "hypothesis" are not the same in a scientific context. While "theory" in conventional usage tends to denote a "hunch" or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles which, via logical induction, explains the observations in nature in natural terms. Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the theory of gravity or the theory of relativity.

* The truth of the statement that "Humans are descended from monkeys" depends on whether the last common ancestor of the parvorder Catarrhini could be described as a monkey. Humans did not evolve from any current (non-human) apes.(Some scientists say that humans are a type of ape, biologically speaking, but that is not common word usage.) Rather, humans and other modern simians—chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, etc.—all share an extinct common early ancestor. Humans are more closely related to modern fellow apes than to monkeys, and humans and other apes share a later common ancestor that lived around 7 million years ago in the late Miocene epoch.
However, fossil discoveries of "recently" (as in, only millions of years ago) extinct species are, in the experience of paleontologists, rarely direct ancestors of living species (cf. missing link). Clarity here is affected by people who are unaware of recent taxonomic shufflings-around of the biological names and taxa in the Anthropoidea: for example, in former times the Hominidae only included the genus Homo and the most man-like of the extinct genera.

* The process of biological evolution is not necessarily slow. Millions of years are not necessarily required to see speciation (a change in characteristics of a kind of organism, typically rendering offspring infertile with the previous species). The length of time for speciation to occur depends strictly on the number of generations that have gone by. For this reason, organisms with shorter lifespans such as fruit flies will evolve much more quickly than animals with longer lifespans. Indeed, it has been observed multiple times under both controlled laboratory conditions and in nature.

* Evolution is not a progression from "lower" to "higher", and evolution does not require an increase in complexity. A population can evolve to become simpler with less genetic information, and have a smaller genome—often called "devolution", but that is a misnomer.

* The claim that "almost all mutations are harmful" is strictly speaking false. In fact, most mutations have no noticeable effect, mainly because most mutations do not occur within coding or regulatory regions of the genome. One study gives the average number of mutations that arise in a human conception to be around 128, with an average number of harmful mutations per conception of 1.3. However, most mutations that have an effect on phenotype are indeed detrimental to the organism.

* The claim that evolution makes no meaningful predictions is not true—for example the discovery of the relationship between chromosome 2 and chimpanzee chromosomes at the end of the completion of the human and chimp genome projects was predicted, and makes meaningful sense as evidence of a common ancestor.

* The characterization of evolution as the "survival of the fittest" (in the sense of "only the best-adapted organisms will prevail", a view common in social Darwinism) is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution. Any organism which is capable of reproducing itself before dying is considered "fit". If the organism is able to do so on an ongoing basis, it will survive as a species. A more accurate characterization of evolution would be "survival of the fit enough".

Views: 11

Comment by Wassabi on July 7, 2009 at 5:07am
great post!
nowhere is evolution more apparent than in bacteria. viruses constantly adapt to antibiotics and become more and more deadly. it's been happening under the microscope since the dawn on modern medicine... no amount of solid proof could convince those who blindly want to believe.
Comment by Human Evolution on July 7, 2009 at 8:53am
Agreed.
Comment by Gaytor on July 7, 2009 at 3:20pm
Nelson would post that. It's a vocabulary/science lesson salad. Happy to see you posting again by the way Dan.
Comment by Dave G on July 7, 2009 at 4:17pm
"The length of time for speciation to occur depends strictly on the number of generations that have gone by."

Not quite accurate. While the number of generations is certainly a factor, other factors also have a say in the speed in which speciation takes place, including population size (in larger populations the spread of mutations is blunted), environmental pressure (a stable environment may have little pressure to adapt, and mutations away from the established norm are more likely to be less fitted for survival), and the possibility of accelerated development due to sexual selection (the peacock's tail).
Comment by Dan on July 7, 2009 at 4:26pm
I can do wonders with copy and paste... I forgot to add the source to that it was off some wiki.
Comment by James on July 7, 2009 at 4:46pm
Great post! Now if we could only get every theist to read an understand even half of that info... lol
Comment by Steveo on July 7, 2009 at 4:58pm
Very good info, Nice.

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