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Thread: Does evolution keep going until perfection has been acheived?

  1. #1 Does evolution keep going until perfection has been acheived? 
    Forum Freshman ukjojo's Avatar
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    By "perfection" I mean that the particular organism has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment and so therefore any further adaptation would be superfluous and so its evolution ceases.

    If that's the case, then do you think evolution has ceased with our human species, or that further development is still ongoing towards our perfection as a species? If that is so, then where do you think we are heading in evolutionary terms - for example; could we branch into amphibious humans and/or flying humans alongside ground-based types? Or do you think that as a species evolution has reached its peak and has stopped for us?

    We certainly do have some genetic variants that perhaps one day may lead to reptilian or fish-humans, because there are people with webbed fingers and/or toes, plus those with congenital scale-like skins - and perhaps this is evolution furthering itself along branches rather than simply what we regard as genetic anomalies?

    Thanks for your thoughts.


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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    There is no perfection. Look at the history of the dinosaurs. As the prey evolved better defenses, the predators evolved new methods to predate them, thus the prey evolved better defenses again. Evolution is does not have a pinnacle. It is just a process.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukjojo View Post
    ... has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment ...
    you see, there lies the rub - the environment always changes
    what was advantageous at any one time may become a drawback the next year
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukjojo View Post
    By "perfection" I mean that the particular organism has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment and so therefore any further adaptation would be superfluous and so its evolution ceases.

    If that's the case, then do you think evolution has ceased with our human species, or that further development is still ongoing towards our perfection as a species? If that is so, then where do you think we are heading in evolutionary terms - for example; could we branch into amphibious humans and/or flying humans alongside ground-based types? Or do you think that as a species evolution has reached its peak and has stopped for us?

    We certainly do have some genetic variants that perhaps one day may lead to reptilian or fish-humans, because there are people with webbed fingers and/or toes, plus those with congenital scale-like skins - and perhaps this is evolution furthering itself along branches rather than simply what we regard as genetic anomalies?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Agree with other comments so far. The whole notion of perfection over time strikes me as a sort of Whig-view-of-history fallacy. All you have is adaptive change, to an environment that itself changes. In the case of humanity, one could argue that we now to a large degree control our environment, which rather puts the boot on the other foot where evolution is concerned. But we've only been able to do this in some ways, for a limited period. I think myself it would be foolhardy to conclude that evolution has stopped, especially when one thinks about what attributes are considered desirable in a mate - and perhaps in the near future in a child. Things such as sickle cell anaemia and lactose metabolism show that evolution has been very much alive in mankind in the recent past.
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  6. #5  
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    In a static environment, evolution might tend toward equilibrium, although it s a guess.
    But earth is far from static, so clearly, no perfection or long term equilibrium in view.
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    As a Kiwi, I'm proud to present our nation's contribution to evolutionary history: The Tuatara.

    Tuatara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The tuatara is a reptile that is endemic to New Zealand and which, though it resembles most lizards, is part of a distinct lineage, order Rhynchocephalia.[1] The two species of tuatara are the only surviving members of its order, which flourished around 200 million years ago.[2] Their most recent common ancestor with any other extant group is with the squamates (lizards and snakes). For this reason, tuatara are of great interest in the study of the evolution of lizards and snakes, and for the reconstruction of the appearance and habits of the earliest diapsids (the group that also includes birds, dinosaurs, and crocodiles).
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  8. #7  
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    a kiwi isn't a lizard is it ? i thought it was a bird or a fruit



    praise the lord ! the kiwi is the ultimate transitional living fossil, and proof that evolution is anything but perfect (or anything else you want to claim)
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  9. #8  
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    Perfect evolution would imply physical immortality imo.

    But there is no such thing, because no amount of evolution or technology can save the species on our planet from a meteor hit or the sun going supernova.

    Therefore, any development in evolution is inevitably equally insignificant.
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    Even if a creature is living in harmony with its environment, that is, surviving and reproducing enough to sustain its population, competition with other living things for limited resources puts pressure on it to change. Natural selection favours living things that out compete other living things - by becoming faster, smarter, stronger, etc. or able to exploit another source of energy, another ecological niche.

    And whats interesting to me about evolution is the variety of strategies living things have developed to solve the same environmental challenge - the variety of engineering designs for flight or locomation or metabolism. Natures doesn't just come up with a single solution and stop.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Perfect evolution would imply physical immortality imo.

    But there is no such thing, because no amount of evolution or technology can save the species on our planet from a meteor hit or the sun going supernova.

    Therefore, any development in evolution is inevitably equally insignificant.
    Not if part of the evolution was survival through desiccation. It might then survive in space after the meteor has devastated everything else and it survives on another planet. Like the idea of panspermia.
    Panspermia Theory
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  12. #11  
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    Evolution is indeed a process. It can't stop. Many species have at one time or another reached a point of being perfect for their environment, then their environment has changed. Evolution does not have a goal, it just keeps going.
    There is much speculation about the "next phase of human evolution". Ideas like flying humans or humans adapedted to life in the water are pretty far fetched. In my humble opinion the next phase in human evolution will be immunity to the HIV/AIDS virus. This virus pretty clearly kills 100% of those infected, if they don't die of something else first, and is incurable. It is infecting a steadily increasing portion of the world population.
    Another area of change will be increased resistence to industrial pollutants. Those who have resistance will survive and those who do not, will not.
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    Interesting fact of evolution is symbiosis from different organism, like human and his billions of gut-bacteria. Its not only predation.
    If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Evolution never stops, it just keeps on going. Over 90 % of all living things are extinct that ever lived on Earth. Even galaxies are destroyed so entire civilizations could be wiped out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Evolution never stops, it just keeps on going. Over 90 % of all living things are extinct that ever lived on Earth. Even galaxies are destroyed so entire civilizations could be wiped out.
    How many species are destroyed when you have a galaxy destroyed? How do you destroy a galaxy by the way?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    you see, there lies the rub - the environment always changes
    what was advantageous at any one time may become a drawback the next year
    Isn't your avatar an example of an animal that had a reasonably static environment?
    I thought that was what 'living fossils' are.

    Granted - "reasonably static" is not "0 changes" - but it's as close as we can get on this planet, I guess.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    you see, there lies the rub - the environment always changes
    what was advantageous at any one time may become a drawback the next year
    Isn't your avatar an example of an animal that had a reasonably static environment?
    I thought that was what 'living fossils' are.

    Granted - "reasonably static" is not "0 changes" - but it's as close as we can get on this planet, I guess.
    Coelacanths are not living fossils. Like the rest of us, they evolve | Thoughtomics, Scientific American Blog Network
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  18. #17  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Evolution never stops, it just keeps on going. Over 90 % of all living things are extinct that ever lived on Earth. Even galaxies are destroyed so entire civilizations could be wiped out.
    How many species are destroyed when you have a galaxy destroyed? How do you destroy a galaxy by the way?

    When two or even three galaxies collide with each other .
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  20. #19  
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    That's a GREAT question. I think its one of the central questions of our time.

    First of all, yes, all species can reach total harmony with their ecosystem/environment if its stays stable, and doesn't change. This means that the genetic picture either doesn't change from generation to generation, or more likely cycles through different forms that always come back to the start. But you also have to remember there are some wild cards, like mutations from radiation that can enter the picture, always creating new things. But if what exists is the best thing possible, and the vast vast vast majority of these experiments fail, you can achieve a very stable ecosystem for a long, long, time.

    As far as your question about whether we've stopped. My opinion is, we're probably not that lucky to be the end of evolution. It would be great if we were, but we're not. Like I said above, things last if nothing changes. But the current human success is based largely on changing things, like consuming non-renewable resources (like clean water, coal etc). Eventually, the environment will change as resources become scarcer, and humans may end up competing with each other to live. That's where evolution becomes active again, as certain types of people die off. Maybe through war, famine (we'll realize suddenly why nature created so many obese people) or other difficulties. What arises from these hard times will be a new sort of human, and evolution will continue.

    Human's have invented a new wildcard too, which is genetic engineering and cybernetic tools. The humans who survive these future situations may be engineered to have certain traits, or have cybernetic features, which make them part machine, which means we could be moving eventually toward being something other than modern definition of a human.

    Those are my thoughts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Evolution never stops, it just keeps on going. Over 90 % of all living things are extinct that ever lived on Earth. Even galaxies are destroyed so entire civilizations could be wiped out.
    How many species are destroyed when you have a galaxy destroyed? How do you destroy a galaxy by the way?

    When two or even three galaxies collide with each other .
    But even then don't you just end up with a bigger galaxy! OK the few planets in the colliding galaxies might just be the ones with the life forms on them and they might just be destroyed when the galaxy collisions happen, but it seems hard to wipe out a galaxy as a whole.
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    The only method to destroy a galaxy that I know of is to send in the Jehovas Witnesses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    The only method to destroy a galaxy that I know of is to send in the Jehovas Witnesses.
    On the Neverfly flying machine!
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    The only method to destroy a galaxy that I know of is to send in the Jehovas Witnesses.
    Or my sister, she's very good at demolishing this type of galaxy:
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    In a stable environment a species that is well matched to the environment will show a gradual increase in the range of variation that is within the norm as random variations to the norm happen and are not selected out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Perfect evolution would imply physical immortality imo.
    Immortality is the antithesis of evolution. "Perfect" evolution would involve an immeasurably short lifespan (and reproductive cycle.) You would see the most rapid evolution in that case, mutation rates being equal, and the most rapid convergence on an ideally selected organism.

    But there is no such thing, because no amount of evolution or technology can save the species on our planet from a meteor hit or the sun going supernova.
    Evolution has already saved our species from the meteor hit that killed the dinosaurs. And if the sun goes supernova, the only thing that will save us is the evolutionary drive that gave us intelligence - specifically the intelligence to build interstellar spacecraft.
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    I wonder if our great-great-great ancestors, scurrying from tree to tree, would appreciate all that evolution has done for their distant offspring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    I wonder if our great-great-great ancestors, scurrying from tree to tree, would appreciate all that evolution has done for their distant offspring.
    They'd probably ask us what the heck we went and did, making a mess of everything with our newfangled technology... what with the puddin' pops and the beboppin'...
    Then they'd tell us how things were back in their day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    I wonder if our great-great-great ancestors, scurrying from tree to tree, would appreciate all that evolution has done for their distant offspring.
    They'd probably ask us what the heck we went and did, making a mess of everything with our newfangled technology... what with the puddin' pops and the beboppin'...
    Then they'd tell us how things were back in their day.
    But could they?
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    I believe in achieving perfection during evolution. But a lot narrower then simply saying a whole organism is perfect.

    I think perfection has been achieved if evolution can't come up with any better alternatives. Say how information has been stored. This has not changed for a billion years. Also, the way energy is being produced in eukaryotic cells, these mitochondria have not changed as well. You could even replace all our mitochondria with that of birds and we would still be able to live.

    So i think we achieved natural achievable perfection on some points. Now it is up to us to see if we can do better using synthetics.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Evolution has locked in certain traits long term but the term to use is not perfection but rather "good enough". Traits don't get replaced until and unless they are "not good enough" and then only if there is an alternative.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TridentBlue View Post
    First of all, yes, all species can reach total harmony with their ecosystem/environment if its stays stable, and doesn't change.
    Please provide, with appropriate documentation, an example to support this claim.

    Eventually, the environment will change as resources become scarcer, and humans may end up competing with each other to live. That's where evolution becomes active again, as certain types of people die off.
    But the environment we live in is different from that preceding it and so we are seeing the survival and reproduction of genotypes that would not have survived in the past. Thus the mix of alleles in the population changes and that is evolution. The human race is currently actively evolving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TridentBlue View Post
    First of all, yes, all species can reach total harmony with their ecosystem/environment if its stays stable, and doesn't change.
    Please provide, with appropriate documentation, an example to support this claim.
    It is possible, no?
    It just doesn't happen outside of a laboratory.
    (And, as an example, I would probably suggest a petri dish in a lab.)
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    Richard Lenski - he of the long-term evolution experiment fame - recently published a paper: Long-Term Dynamics of Adaptation in Asexual Populations and an accompanying blog post in which it is demonstrated that within the unchanging ecosystem under study, the model that best fits their data is one in which fitness is unbounded. That is, fitness improves forever, albeit at an every decreasing pace.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Richard Lenski - he of the long-term evolution experiment fame - recently published a paper: Long-Term Dynamics of Adaptation in Asexual Populations and an accompanying blog post in which it is demonstrated that within the unchanging ecosystem under study, the model that best fits their data is one in which fitness is unbounded. That is, fitness improves forever, albeit at an every decreasing pace.
    This reminds me of the claim, "The Great White Shark is so perfect, it hasn't needed to evolve" which appears to be a rampant misconception. The Great White Shark has been evolving just as everything else has.
    It's outward appearance is highly successful and has shown little change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    I believe in achieving perfection during evolution. But a lot narrower then simply saying a whole organism is perfect.

    I think perfection has been achieved if evolution can't come up with any better alternatives. Say how information has been stored. This has not changed for a billion years. Also, the way energy is being produced in eukaryotic cells, these mitochondria have not changed as well. You could even replace all our mitochondria with that of birds and we would still be able to live.

    So i think we achieved natural achievable perfection on some points. Now it is up to us to see if we can do better using synthetics.
    Perfection according to whom?
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    Evolution only doesn't happen in a fantasy world with magic and unicorns.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquille View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    I believe in achieving perfection during evolution. But a lot narrower then simply saying a whole organism is perfect.

    I think perfection has been achieved if evolution can't come up with any better alternatives. Say how information has been stored. This has not changed for a billion years. Also, the way energy is being produced in eukaryotic cells, these mitochondria have not changed as well. You could even replace all our mitochondria with that of birds and we would still be able to live.

    So i think we achieved natural achievable perfection on some points. Now it is up to us to see if we can do better using synthetics.
    Perfection according to whom?
    "I think" was clearly used before making the claim, and thus there is no certainty of it.

    But the way DNA works has not changed during evolution. Nor do proteins really change during evolution. At least the way they accelerate reactions and what elements they are composed off.

    Say, a tetrahelix, of a trihelix as a DNA replacement could be imagined, but evolution would never provide this. Because of the succes it has with a double helix.

    Or say, we become suddenly based on silicon. It could make us more perfect, but evolution will not take us there. So evolutionary perfection will be achieved with carbon, even if there is something better. Its the best evolution could provide under these circomstances.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukjojo View Post
    By "perfection" I mean that the particular organism has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment and so therefore any further adaptation would be superfluous and so its evolution ceases.

    If that's the case, then do you think evolution has ceased with our human species, or that further development is still ongoing towards our perfection as a species? If that is so, then where do you think we are heading in evolutionary terms - for example; could we branch into amphibious humans and/or flying humans alongside ground-based types? Or do you think that as a species evolution has reached its peak and has stopped for us?

    We certainly do have some genetic variants that perhaps one day may lead to reptilian or fish-humans, because there are people with webbed fingers and/or toes, plus those with congenital scale-like skins - and perhaps this is evolution furthering itself along branches rather than simply what we regard as genetic anomalies?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Sounds like Star Trek Borg. It is the assumption there is a goal. There is a target,... a superb state of existance. It is the same question as wondering infinity,.. or asking if god exists.

    The simple fact is that biology and its continuatin g evolution does not exist because of it is existing.

    It is an ever on going process. Even tech we throw at it,... still adheres to the laws of nature-biology.

    You can never escape it,... never outrun it.... What ever YOU yourself do,... will have an impact on evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estheria Quintessimo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ukjojo View Post
    By "perfection" I mean that the particular organism has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment and so therefore any further adaptation would be superfluous and so its evolution ceases.

    If that's the case, then do you think evolution has ceased with our human species, or that further development is still ongoing towards our perfection as a species? If that is so, then where do you think we are heading in evolutionary terms - for example; could we branch into amphibious humans and/or flying humans alongside ground-based types? Or do you think that as a species evolution has reached its peak and has stopped for us?

    We certainly do have some genetic variants that perhaps one day may lead to reptilian or fish-humans, because there are people with webbed fingers and/or toes, plus those with congenital scale-like skins - and perhaps this is evolution furthering itself along branches rather than simply what we regard as genetic anomalies?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Sounds like Star Trek Borg. It is the assumption there is a goal. There is a target,... a superb state of existance. It is the same question as wondering infinity,.. or asking if god exists.

    The simple fact is that biology and its continuatin g evolution does not exist because of it is existing.

    It is an ever on going process. Even tech we throw at it,... still adheres to the laws of nature-biology.

    You can never escape it,... never outrun it.... What ever YOU yourself do,... will have an impact on evolution.
    This is my opinion.
    It always amazed me when I could see what were traces of the evolutionary theory in the Bible (at least in my interpretation of it).
    I could even see a reference to the ultimate goal of evolution, and we seem to be miles from it as yet.

    I have always believed in evolution but I also believe in God, so it becomes a mission to link the two concepts together seamlessly. I can't say I have all the answers but I'm working on it.
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    No, that makes no sense. I'm pretty sure that's a common myth in evolution. People think it means "perfection," but really it's all totally random. Which may explain why it seems like intelligent life isn't all that common in the galaxy (or the Fermi paradox, anyway). I think maybe development of life like humans is so statistically unlikely that it doesn't happen that often.
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    It's impossible to achieve perfection, because for ex. humans are developing their immunity, while viruses are trying to break our resistance. Can they both achieve perfection?
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    Viruses are not trying anything, they evolve in a way to better being able to reproduce. If this is to use eukaryotes or prokaryotes in this manner, they will continue to use this. But what if there is another way? Designating viruses ultimate "goal" to invade other cells is pretty imagination less.

    But yes, they will cease to be viruses if this ever happens.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Viruses are not trying anything, they evolve in a way to better being able to reproduce. If this is to use eukaryotes or prokaryotes in this manner, they will continue to use this. But what if there is another way? Designating viruses ultimate "goal" to invade other cells is pretty imagination less.

    But yes, they will cease to be viruses if this ever happens.
    The rate of evolution in viruses are so much higher than in Multicellular organisms (MCO). A concept that dawned on me was that viruses could be the factories where new protein forming DNA genes are tested in prior to their inclusion in MCO. That was my thought many years ago and now I am looking for evidence for this. I was thinking this could be a way of speeding up the evolution rate.

    This was emphasised in the YT Evolution Ep1: Darwin's Dangerous Idea (5/11) - YouTube where the Aids virus is mutating and evolving faster than new drugs are invented to fight it.
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    Rob, how about you start a few of your own threads about viruses and such, instead of posting in other people's threads about it? In New hypothesis if you don't mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Rob, how about you start a few of your own threads about viruses and such, instead of posting in other people's threads about it? In New hypothesis if you don't mind.
    I'd have been thinking whether that was an acceptable idea, so thanks for the suggestion. So I won't be forced to come up with references etc in that section?
    I'll try that.
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    No way. The environment is constantly changing.

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    The question is wrong on two accounts.

    Evolution never stops.

    Evolution never goes for perfection, just adequate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey View Post
    The question is wrong on two accounts.

    Evolution never stops.

    Evolution never goes for perfection, just adequate.
    Oh my word!
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey View Post
    The question is wrong on two accounts.

    Evolution never stops.

    Evolution never goes for perfection, just adequate.
    Evolution doesn't go for anything. Not even adequate. Evolution goes.. If it is possible, and there is time, it will happen. If it is viable enough it will continue to exist, if not, it will die out.

    Perfection has been achieved if evolution does not present other viable means of certain aspects of survival.

    This does not mean we can tell what is perfect and what not until we are presented with an improvement, or a change. Until this happens the best way, is the perfect way.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Name one example of perfect adaptations.

    My hypothesis is that they don't exist.

    Since natural selection is a process you can not blame anyone for using an active verb indicating a trend towards an end-result. But if you want to do science talk I can do that also.

    Evolution doesn't go. It is a term describing a historical process found in nature, which incorporates specific characteristics such as natural selection, reproduction, inheritable information, mutation.

    If it is possible, and there is time, it will happen.
    Evolution always happens with each new generation. No exceptions.

    If it is viable enough it will continue to exist, if not, it will die out.
    Evolution will die out? hardly. Certain lineages of organisms that undergo evolution will die out.

    Perfection has been achieved if evolution does not present other viable means of certain aspects of survival.
    Unfortunately for that thought, adequate state is always reached before perfection. But please, give us an example of perfection.

    This does not mean we can tell what is perfect and what not until we are presented with an improvement, or a change. Until this happens the best way, is the perfect way.
    Luckily in the world of science we can tell what is adequate and what is not. Adequate is perfectly definable as successful reproduction. If an organism manages to reproduce it definitely has an adequate set of adaptations.

    I would prefer to talk in scientific terms than in stuff you cannot define or predict or describe.

    That's what science is all about after all.
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    Every time I think of the Galapagos finches and their marvellous beak adaptations I wonder if the plants whose seeds they dine on also adapted? Also do animals tend to evolve faster or slower than plants?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Yes, the plants adapted to be eaten, they use the finches eating them, flying off and pooping the seeds to propagate .
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Yes, the plants adapted to be eaten, they use the finches eating them, flying off and pooping the seeds to propagate .
    Cool. See if I can get this straight.... the plants before the finches arrived released their seeds into some other mode of transport medium (ie air, water) or they simply fell to the ground. The first finches would have had trouble cracking the seeds. The finches would swallow them whole I would imagine. Their digestive systems would do the rest. This proved to be invaluable to the trees, perhaps not at first, but over time the plants chances of survival improved since their seeds could be dispersed over a wider area at a faster rate. WHat I don't understand is this: if the adaptive beaks allow the finches to dig out the meat of a seed then how does that help a plant trying to propagate? The first finches would poop out a hard shell undigestible seed yet the modern day finch would only swallow the meat. Obviously some of the seeds early finches ate were at least partially or wholly digestible which would not benefit the plant. So does the modern plant produce some kind of seed that is only partially digestible without killing the seed?
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    I'll leave that to a better biologist to answer, my post was a slightly fascetious comment based on half remembered biology classes from school...
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    WHat I don't understand is this: if the adaptive beaks allow the finches to dig out the meat of a seed then how does that help a plant trying to propagate? The first finches would poop out a hard shell undigestible seed yet the modern day finch would only swallow the meat. Obviously some of the seeds early finches ate were at least partially or wholly digestible which would not benefit the plant. So does the modern plant produce some kind of seed that is only partially digestible without killing the seed?
    One problem that the trees have is that finches aren't their only adversary.
    Hundreds/thousands of species are evolving to make the most of their environment which could include eating seeds.
    And, combined, those species reproduce 'faster' than the tree.
    This increases their chances of coping with any changes the tree evolves.

    For example, the tree could evolve seeds too large for finches to fit in their beaks - but then the seeds become viable food for parrots - and there maybe a lot more parrots living in the tree.
    Maybe finches are the least detrimental predator of seeds?

    Evolved life is such a complicated combination of checks and balances...
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    One problem that the trees have is that finches aren't their only adversary.
    Hundreds/thousands of species are evolving to make the most of their environment which could include eating seeds.
    And, combined, those species reproduce 'faster' than the tree.
    This increases their chances of coping with any changes the tree evolves.

    For example, the tree could evolve seeds too large for finches to fit in their beaks - but then the seeds become viable food for parrots - and there maybe a lot more parrots living in the tree.
    Maybe finches are the least detrimental predator of seeds?

    Evolved life is such a complicated combination of checks and balances...
    Thanks. I couldn't understand why a finch had to evolve a beak it didn't seem to need (it was eating the entire seed/shell regardless). Why would a finch evolve to more efficiently open a seed to get at the meat when the seed gets crapped out anyway, didn't make sense to me. I can understand the tree evolving a more indigestible seed but then why would the finch eat it? There must be some benefit to the bird unless it is being fooled.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I can understand the tree evolving a more indigestible seed but then why would the finch eat it? There must be some benefit to the bird unless it is being fooled.
    A slight aside...
    I find the development of some plants to produce capsaicin to be fascinating.
    Mammals used to eat their seeds, but their digestion systems digested the seeds - few seeds made it out, as it were.
    But birds digestive systems weren't as effective, and so birds would help propagate the seeds.
    So, some plants eventually developed fruit containing capsaicin.
    Capsaicin (the 'burning' part of chillis) deters most mammals, but birds are immune.

    But, in regards to finches, maybe they are not benefiting the tree at all, but the tree simply hasn't had time to evolve a better defence against the finches evolved 'nutcracker' bills.
    Or maybe the finches are just not enough of a threat to make much difference when it comes to Natural Selection.
    So many possibilities...
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    [But, in regards to finches, maybe they are not benefiting the tree at all, but the tree simply hasn't had time to evolve a better defence against the finches evolved 'nutcracker' bills.
    Or maybe the finches are just not enough of a threat to make much difference when it comes to Natural Selection.
    So many possibilities...
    Well for me, one of the biggest possibilities is that the birds do not benefit the tree one bit. The birds have evolved a beak so that they can eat the seeds, something they obviously had a problem doing at one time. Yes at first, when the birds had to swallow the whole nut, they probably did their part in distributing the tree's seeds about and the trees benefitted. But that's it, purely by accident the trees were able to propagate at a faster clip than normal at one time. But since the birds can now get at the meat of the nut, not relying on their digestive system to get through to it, I can't see any benefit to the tree. All the early good stuff has been cancelled out by recent bird adaptation. The nuts that survive to grow into a tree could possibly carry a trait that makes future seeds less noticeable, desirable or presentable to birds. I stand to be corrected because I'm not sure if these finches still crap out the seeds, even with the new beaks? I can't see why they would but I've been wrong before.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; December 17th, 2013 at 09:11 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukjojo View Post
    By "perfection" I mean that the particular organism has reached a perfect state of harmony with its environment and so therefore any further adaptation would be superfluous and so its evolution ceases.

    If that's the case, then do you think evolution has ceased with our human species, or that further development is still ongoing towards our perfection as a species? If that is so, then where do you think we are heading in evolutionary terms - for example; could we branch into amphibious humans and/or flying humans alongside ground-based types? Or do you think that as a species evolution has reached its peak and has stopped for us?

    We certainly do have some genetic variants that perhaps one day may lead to reptilian or fish-humans, because there are people with webbed fingers and/or toes, plus those with congenital scale-like skins - and perhaps this is evolution furthering itself along branches rather than simply what we regard as genetic anomalies?

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Actually, evolution will not come to an end because there is intra-specific competition if the resource is limited
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    [But, in regards to finches, maybe they are not benefiting the tree at all, but the tree simply hasn't had time to evolve a better defence against the finches evolved 'nutcracker' bills.
    Or maybe the finches are just not enough of a threat to make much difference when it comes to Natural Selection.
    So many possibilities...
    Well for me, one of the biggest possibilities is that the birds do not benefit the tree one bit. The birds have evolved a beak so that they can eat the seeds, something they obviously had a problem doing at one time. Yes at first, when the birds had to swallow the whole nut, they probably did their part in distributing the tree's seeds about and the trees benefitted. But that's it, purely by accident the trees were able to propagate at a faster clip than normal at one time. But since the birds can now get at the meat of the nut, not relying on their digestive system to get through to it, I can't see any benefit to the tree. All the early good stuff has been cancelled out by recent bird adaptation. The nuts that survive to grow into a tree could possibly carry a trait that makes future seeds less noticeable, desirable or presentable to birds. I stand to be corrected because I'm not sure if these finches still crap out the seeds, even with the new beaks? I can't see why they would but I've been wrong before.
    Well, there's a couple of things here. Firstly, birds don't have teeth that can finely grind the nut so there'd be a good proportion that would get through the bird's digestive system more or less unharmed. It may not be many, let alone most, but some will survive. At which point there are distinct advantages. The seed is deposited wherever the bird happens to be at the time so the tree gets to spread its seed beyond its own boundaries. And the seed is deposited with its own individual packet of concentrated fertiliser, so it gets a good start once it manages to germinate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Well, there's a couple of things here. Firstly, birds don't have teeth that can finely grind the nut so there'd be a good proportion that would get through the bird's digestive system more or less unharmed. It may not be many, let alone most, but some will survive. At which point there are distinct advantages. The seed is deposited wherever the bird happens to be at the time so the tree gets to spread its seed beyond its own boundaries. And the seed is deposited with its own individual packet of concentrated fertiliser, so it gets a good start once it manages to germinate.
    That's my point...when the finches arrived and began to evolve new beaks, they had to have begun eating the nut, then crapping it out so the trees then flourished. The birds' beaks evolved to make the nut easier to crack, I don't think it changed their diet. For the trees, just by the luck of the draw, the finches' arrival was a boon to its propagation. The tree all of a sudden could populate the island faster than its rivals. I don't see why the tree would evolve to inhibit the birds from delivering the payload to various parts of the island. For the trees it has never been better. So for the most part, the only real evolutionary tweak was to make the nutcracker beak a much easier tool to use. I thought maybe it would allow for the finch to spend less time eating but how much time does it take to swallow something whole? My real question is: Did the birds really need a new beak when they already ate the nuts with the old beak and survived?

    I think the whole beak evolution is being blown out of proportion. Yes, specialized beaks developed, no question. However the birds survived without them for a time. The real story here is how an invasive species of animal actually benefitted a native plant species. Don't hear of that too often. I'm no expert but is there a term for such a thing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    WHat I don't understand is this: if the adaptive beaks allow the finches to dig out the meat of a seed then how does that help a plant trying to propagate? The first finches would poop out a hard shell undigestible seed yet the modern day finch would only swallow the meat. Obviously some of the seeds early finches ate were at least partially or wholly digestible which would not benefit the plant. So does the modern plant produce some kind of seed that is only partially digestible without killing the seed?
    One problem that the trees have is that finches aren't their only adversary.
    Hundreds/thousands of species are evolving to make the most of their environment which could include eating seeds.
    And, combined, those species reproduce 'faster' than the tree.
    This increases their chances of coping with any changes the tree evolves.

    For example, the tree could evolve seeds too large for finches to fit in their beaks - but then the seeds become viable food for parrots - and there maybe a lot more parrots living in the tree.
    Maybe finches are the least detrimental predator of seeds?

    Evolved life is such a complicated combination of checks and balances...
    in this context, the following article is quite enlightening :

    The ‘ghosts’ of extinct birds in modern ecosystems
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    Interesting to read that the Dodo's relationship to the tambalacoque tree is a myth. Many people have believed the Dodo's demise meant the tree was going extinct.

    I wonder, as the present day Galapagos finches evolved whether the tree that provides their nourishment produced a variety of seed covers. Some with such a hard shell that even the finches evolving beaks couldn't then and maybe even today do the job. Thus it might be that the plant has passed on a favorable trait to the next generations. I just can't see the tree evolving as fast as the birds. If all the seeds produced were susceptible to finches digesting them, then how does it still flourish? Best to attract the bird, let them shell some nuts but make sure they have to swallow a few whole. At least it buys the tree time to work out a new strategy if required.
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    An organism will never be at harmony with other species or its environment. Both of which, are always adapting to other species. The process of evolution will never stop, simply because there is no "perfect".
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    i'm just in the process of reading "Paelofantasy" by Marlene Zuk, and here's two extracts that clearly show that the concept of perfection is meaningless when it comes to evolution

    the first one shows that traits which are advantageous against one type of disease can be detrimental for other diseases :

    Because of the immunity to AIDS that CRR5-delta offers, medical researchers have attempted to mimic the effect of the gene variant in devising treatments for AIDS. ... But in 2006, Philip Murphy and his colleagues from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases discovered a snag. Mice that were genetically engineered to have CRR5-delta were unusually susceptible to West Nile virus.
    and here's an extract commenting on long-term population studies amongst humans where some became taller over time and others became shorter, and here's the conclusion :

    The review authors suggest that women in preindustrial populations are under selection to become taller, while those in more industrialized places, such as Massachusetts, have more children if they are shorter. We do not know the reason for this difference; ... More generally, this variation underscores the point that there is no single optimum state for humanity - being tall can be better than being short, or vice versa, for different individuals under different circumstances.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    traits which are advantageous against one type of disease can be detrimental for other diseases :
    I would think that would be similar to the Galapagos. Suddenly having finches spreading seeds to one plant's benefit is detrimental to others.
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    The most that evolution can hope to achieve is temporary equilibrium with its environment, for the time that the environment is stable.
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    Animals will never stop evolving. There will always be other animals evolving, and each animal must evolve because of the evolutions of their prey and predators.
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    Quote Originally Posted by endercreeper01 View Post
    Animals will never stop evolving. There will always be other animals evolving, and each animal must evolve because of the evolutions of their prey and predators.
    The only way that would work is if several life forms originated at the same time. What if only one life form started it all?
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by endercreeper01 View Post
    Animals will never stop evolving. There will always be other animals evolving, and each animal must evolve because of the evolutions of their prey and predators.
    The only way that would work is if several life forms originated at the same time. What if only one life form started it all?
    Until there is variation, then there is no evolution.
    A group of reproducing - but identical - lifeforms would not be evolving, by definition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by endercreeper01 View Post
    Animals will never stop evolving. There will always be other animals evolving, and each animal must evolve because of the evolutions of their prey and predators.
    The only way that would work is if several life forms originated at the same time. What if only one life form started it all?
    Until there is variation, then there is no evolution.
    A group of reproducing - but identical - lifeforms would not be evolving, by definition.
    What about number of offspring, longevity, and behaviour? Would these change identity? So an organism could still look identical (from the fossil record) but have evolutionary changes going on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Until there is variation, then there is no evolution.
    A group of reproducing - but identical - lifeforms would not be evolving, by definition.
    What about number of offspring, longevity, and behaviour? Would these change identity?
    Could you rephrase the question? I don't understand what you are asking. For example, what do you mean by "identity"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    So an organism could still look identical (from the fossil record) but have evolutionary changes going on.
    Well, (e.g.) a fox with better camouflage would have exactly the same fossil remains as a fox with worse camouflage - so: yes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by endercreeper01 View Post
    Animals will never stop evolving. There will always be other animals evolving, and each animal must evolve because of the evolutions of their prey and predators.
    The only way that would work is if several life forms originated at the same time. What if only one life form started it all?
    If there was only one life form, it would gradually evolve and form several different species. This is because it would spread to different environments. Each population would evolve based on it's surroundings. Eventually, species from different environments would mix together. Both species would have to compete for resources, and this makes both evolve. This all means that the one life form would evolve into other life forms.
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    In my view, there are several kinds of evolution.

    There is natural evolution, the evolution of physical species via random changes in their genes and the filtering effect of competition to survive. Natural evolution is a powerful force, it has caused simple single celled creatures to evolve to the complexity of a human. But as a process it is very slow.

    There is cultural evolution. The evolution of societies of individuals, how they communicate and organize, the ideas and rules these groups develop to cooperate more efficiently. Different cultures compete with each other, and in my view those that grow and thrive do so because they have evolved more successfully than those that wither and are forgotten. Cultural evolution takes place much faster than natural evolution, and for the immediate future, cultural evolution can be expected to have far more affect on the human condition.

    We are rapidly approaching a new form of evolution, what I think of as voluntary or individual evolution. New technologies will allow us to improve and modify our appearance, our physical abilities, our genes, and even our brains at will. By the end of this century, people taking advantage of these technologies will have huge competitive advantages over those who don't. By the end of the next century, the process will likely advance so far we would have trouble recognizing the result as human. The changes wrought by this form of evolution will occur so quickly that natural evolution will no longer be relevant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    I wonder if our great-great-great ancestors, scurrying from tree to tree, would appreciate all that evolution has done for their distant offspring.
    No they would not, why?, think about YOLO and SWAG
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    If you believe in perfection, you reject the theory of evolution.

    It's core principles dictate that no adaptation can ever go further than adequate, unless we are talking about something like sexual selection where evolutionary pressure can create excesses till the limit is reached. But you wouldn't call a peacocks tail perfection, it would be called waste of energy. (were it not for creating the probability of higher reproductive success).

    Runaway natural selection can only go so far though. Perfection just doesn't fit anywhere in the theory of evolution.
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    The changes wrought by this form of evolution will occur so quickly that natural evolution will no longer be relevant.
    Oh really?

    Let's think about evolution just doing its thing with every other organism in the world while we kid ourselves we're exempt. Then look at all our current and future megacities and how closely everyone in those cities is packed in and how little chance they have to keep away from other people.

    One of those other organisms that keeps on doing its evolutionary thing is the flu virus. What will happen in all those close packed environments when, not if, we have a version of bird flu that is just as, or more, transmissible as the 1918-19 influenza virus and is just as, or more, lethal to individuals. Who does and doesn't succumb to it and who does and doesn't die from it will be due, in large part, to individual constitutions. When it's all over, there will have been a blip in selection of individuals who are, and aren't, susceptible to such infections.

    Other things don't need evolution. If a volcanic eruption the same size, or larger than, Krakatoa occurs near the equator, the effects on agriculture and food supply will last for at least a couple of years. Unless something changes drastically from now, we will have around 3 months grain supplies in reserve. Who does and who doesn't succumb to malnutrition and starvation in times like those will depend largely on the robustness of each individual's constitution in being able to survive with long periods of limited food. Another evolutionary blip.
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    [QUOTE=adelady;512804] Oh really? /QUOTE]

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    Evolution continues as long as conditions change, eh? I'm trying to square that with the seeming "perfection" of certain organelles, or indeed the double helix.

    As for humans, maybe we stop evolving when our form becomes indispensable to a greater entity, as in utopia/distopia. When we become "perfect" cogs in a larger machine. For example we can't lose our toenails because the fascist nailclipper industry would ensure all humans grow toenails at a profitable rate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Evolution continues as long as conditions change, eh? I'm trying to square that with the seeming "perfection" of certain organelles, or indeed the double helix.
    look, let's make it clear once and for all : when it comes to evolution, perfection doesn't exist, for the simple reason that most organisms and their components have to try and satisfy a multitude of requirements

    meaning that if you're perfect for one adaptation you're likely to be poor at another one, and if both are vital for survival you better make sure that you make a compromise between them, so neither of them can and will be perfect

    remember : horses are poor fliers, salmon are not good at running, and bees drown rather than swim in water - to attempt (i'm not even talking about reaching it) perfection against one adaptation you have to sacrifice some things that make you poor at other adaptations
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    I have no idea what perfection means. I don't think the concept has a place in reality. We might as well argue about how many nano-unicorns can fit on a pinhead.
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    In biochemistry there is a concept known as "kinetic perfection", where the reaction mechanism takes place at a rate that is as fast as the substrate(s) and product(s) can diffuse to and from the active site, respectively. Such a state is often referred to as occupying a maximum peak on the fitness landscape. The enzyme can't go any faster, even if the reaction mechanism itself could in theory be improved upon.

    That's about the only perfection example I can dig up. If it can be called such.
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    Interesting. Excellent example. I like the phrase "maximum peak on the fitness landscape". That strikes me as more objective and utlimately quantifiable than perfection. Equally the adjectival modification of kinetic perfection makes sense. Generic perfection by itself is unknown. (Apart from my wife, who is perfect. She told me so herself. And she should know.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Yes, the plants adapted to be eaten, they use the finches eating them, flying off and pooping the seeds to propagate .
    Cool. See if I can get this straight.... the plants before the finches arrived released their seeds into some other mode of transport medium (ie air, water) or they simply fell to the ground. The first finches would have had trouble cracking the seeds. The finches would swallow them whole I would imagine. Their digestive systems would do the rest. This proved to be invaluable to the trees, perhaps not at first, but over time the plants chances of survival improved since their seeds could be dispersed over a wider area at a faster rate. WHat I don't understand is this: if the adaptive beaks allow the finches to dig out the meat of a seed then how does that help a plant trying to propagate? The first finches would poop out a hard shell undigestible seed yet the modern day finch would only swallow the meat. Obviously some of the seeds early finches ate were at least partially or wholly digestible which would not benefit the plant. So does the modern plant produce some kind of seed that is only partially digestible without killing the seed?
    Love your thoughts and questions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    In biochemistry there is a concept known as "kinetic perfection", where the reaction mechanism takes place at a rate that is as fast as the substrate(s) and product(s) can diffuse to and from the active site, respectively. Such a state is often referred to as occupying a maximum peak on the fitness landscape. The enzyme can't go any faster, even if the reaction mechanism itself could in theory be improved upon.

    That's about the only perfection example I can dig up. If it can be called such.
    Thanks. That's what I was hand-waving about. I speculate it roughly applies wherever a whole can't be reduced (by reductionism) to to any finer components. Example a brain is based on neurons, or it wouldn't be a brain; so though animals evolve those cells won't change much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    ... so though animals evolve those cells won't change much.
    doesn't mean they're perfect - all it says is once the house has been built it's easier to change the superstructure than the foundations
    anything to do with the basic epigenetic building blocks tends to be very conservative, because any changes to it are more likely to be detrimental than beneficial
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    If I said perfect it was in quotation marks. The OP was never about perfection in the sense of "best" anyway, it meant "no use changing".

    Besides biochemical kinetic perfection, and irreducible components (assuming you agree), where else do we find resistance to change?
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