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Thread: Are Evolutionary Traits a Time Capsule?

  1. #1 Are Evolutionary Traits a Time Capsule? 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Do the components (or vestiges) that make up a living organism tell a history of what past environmental conditions existed on Earth? Or are current evolutionary traits dealing mainly with predator/prey relationships?

    The most obvious environmental adaptation to me may be human skin colour(unless it helped avoid predator detection) but is there indication of when any changes occurred and why? Does having some creatures warm or cold blooded indicate past environmental conditions? Is there some way of delving into the past by formulating a timeline with respect to adaptation and environment?

    Do vestigial components reveal past environmental conditions? Thinking about the appendix, is it an indicator of a past environment? Do adaptations occur out of environmental necessity as often or more frequently than what predator/prey relationships encourage? I suppose the absence of predators or being in isolation may allow for more environmental.


    Last edited by zinjanthropos; July 7th, 2021 at 11:50 AM.
    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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    The most obvious environmental adaptation to me may be human skin colour(unless it helped avoid predator detection) but is there indication of when any changes occurred and why?
    It had to have occurred after homo sapiens became a distinct species, as I suspect happened with increased hairiness that occurred later in humans around Europe, differentiating them from other humans. Traits that all members of the species have will go back to our earliest common ancestors whilst traits that vary within the species are going to come from changes that have occurred later.

    UV and improved Vitamin D production from lighter skin arising from an environmental change - from hominids expanding into different environments (reduced UV exposure) rather than the environment changing around them - seems a reasonable conjecture for those pale European type humans but a whole variety of skin coloration has evolved, including darker than Euro type people in cold climates elsewhere. Sexual selection is the other main conjecture and I tend to concur, on the basis that they were doing well enough irrespective of skin color that any preferences had no serious survival implications. But no-one really knows.

    I do think humans are a special case in that they can adapt behaviorally, including technologically, in the face of environmental pressures in ways that no other known species can. Clever, tool using problem solvers can adapt better to, say, extreme cold climates, by use of shelter, fire and clothing - and much quicker - than by physiological change through evolution. It isn't just compensation for a weakness or limitation; such tools can expand abilities far beyond those limits.


    Last edited by Ken Fabos; July 12th, 2021 at 11:11 PM.
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