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Thread: Powerful New Evidence For The Theory of Devolution

  1. #1 Powerful New Evidence For The Theory of Devolution 
    Forum Freshman Shubee's Avatar
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    The theory of devolution is now being recognized as a legitimate science:

    "IF YOU want to know how all living things are related, don't bother looking in any textbook that's more than a few years old. Chances are that the tree of life you find there will be wrong. Since they began delving into DNA, biologists have been finding that organisms with features that look alike are often not as closely related as they had thought. These are turbulent times in the world of phylogeny, yet there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase. Now even that is in doubt."

    "The idea of loss in evolution is not new. … However, the latest evidence suggests that the extent of loss might have been seriously underestimated. Some evolutionary biologists now suggest that loss - at every level, from genes and types of cells to whole anatomical features and life stages - is the key to understanding evolution and the relatedness of living things."

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...html?full=true

    That's exactly what I've been teaching. http://www.everythingimportant.org/devolution


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  3. #2 Re: Powerful New Evidence For The Theory of Devolution 
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shubee
    The theory of devolution is now being recognized as a legitimate science:

    "IF YOU want to know how all living things are related, don't bother looking in any textbook that's more than a few years old. Chances are that the tree of life you find there will be wrong. Since they began delving into DNA, biologists have been finding that organisms with features that look alike are often not as closely related as they had thought. These are turbulent times in the world of phylogeny, yet there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase. Now even that is in doubt."

    "The idea of loss in evolution is not new. … However, the latest evidence suggests that the extent of loss might have been seriously underestimated. Some evolutionary biologists now suggest that loss - at every level, from genes and types of cells to whole anatomical features and life stages - is the key to understanding evolution and the relatedness of living things."

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...html?full=true

    That's exactly what I've been teaching. http://www.everythingimportant.org/devolution
    And yet no where in the article is is suggested that EVERYTHING is getting less complex, just that some complexity is occasionally lost what at the same time other complexity is gained. "deevolution" is not an accepted hypothesis or even an accepted term.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman Shubee's Avatar
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    To "suggest that loss — at every level, from genes and types of cells to whole anatomical features and life stages — is the key to understanding evolution and the relatedness of living things" is a revolutionary new hypothesis.

    If that hypothesis pays off, then a new theory is established. If loss turns out to be a key mechanism for evolutionary change, then labeling that process the theory of devolution seems like a natural choice.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by shubee
    If loss turns out to be a key mechanism for evolutionary change
    Loss is not a mechanism. The mechanism remains to be specified, and the operations of Darwinian evolution would be the standard first thing to consider - they work for the loss documented so far (sightless cave dwellers, flightless birds), and nothing seems to have come up that excludes them.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman Shubee's Avatar
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    Has anyone noticed the large pull-quote in the article?

    "Now that the spectre of loss has been raised, proponents of the new model see it everywhere"

    That means that we're discussing a scientific theory, not a mere hypothesis.
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  7. #6  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shubee
    Has anyone noticed the large pull-quote in the article?

    "Now that the spectre of loss has been raised, proponents of the new model see it everywhere"

    That means that we're discussing a scientific theory, not a mere hypothesis.
    No it doesn't........and this only results in modification to evolutionary theory NOT a completely new one.
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Shubee,
    your writing seems to imply that everything is now less complex that it once was. If that is not your intent you need to phrase your statements with greater precision. If that was your intent the article does not support that contention.

    I would also take strong exception to this portion of your initial quote.
    "there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase."
    This may have been still trues in the sixties when I studied palaeontology. It was certainly not true by the eighties.

    If loss turns out to be a key mechanism for evolutionary change,
    iceaura has pointed out that loss is not a mechanism, but a consequence. The mechanism would appear to be good old natural selection. Genes that are less fit are lost from the gene pool. Species that are less fit are lost from the environment. Families that are less fit are lost from Noah's roll call. Phyla that are less fit disappear from the face of the planet.

    Here are a couple of observations about loss:

    When the same organ is found in several members of the same class, especially if in members having very different habits of life, we may generally attribute its presence to inheritance from a common ancestor; and its absence in some of the members to loss through disuse or natural selection.

    As some degree of variation in instincts under a state of nature, and the inheritance of such variations, are indispensable for the action of natural selection, as many instances as possible ought to be given; but want of space prevents me. I can only assert that instincts certainly do vary—for instance, the migratory instinct, both in extent and direction, and in its total loss.

    They are extracts from On the Origin of Species. It seems Charles was quite aware of the importance of loss in constructing the patterns of species and characters, yet he did not see fit to introduce the term devolution. I believe I am with him on this one.
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  9. #8  
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    Devolution sounds like a judgment. I guess Shubee you would say the idiotic turkey has a devolved brain... if I get what you're pointing at... but nonetheless that adaptation must be good for the turkey.

    I do find the idea that lampreys leopards and lilacs are equally evolved kinda hard to keep in mind.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  10. #9  
    Moderator Moderator TheBiologista's Avatar
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    Ugh. No.
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