Monday, January 22, 2007

Selective Evolution?

While reading the December 2006 issue of Scientific American about a 3.3 million year old, amazingly complete skeleton of a child and what she means to human evolution, a question popped in my head--a question about evolution that depending on the answer would seem to cast some doubt on the premise.

Before I state the question, I must preface it with the fact I am talking about evolution of a species into another species. The question is not framed in the context of adaption over time of a species. Also, I am not well educated on evolution science, therefore my question is not meant to be argumentative for or against, but is a question arising from my lack of understanding of stated evolution science and the contrary bits that I see.

Q: If you accept the evolution over long time periods of a species into a more advanced species, such as the evolution of chimps into primitive human species and these into the advanced homo sapien species, then how do you explain the inconsistancies of selective evolution? That is, if chimps evolved into more advanced hominin species, why did certain branches stop evolving but remain in existence like the chimps of today? Why didn't primitive hominin species exhibit similiar patterns, so that Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon species survive rather than become extinct? I would think that whatever wiped them out should have wiped out the chimps as well. For me, it seems like a big hole in the theories? Some species advance and their precursors die off while others branched and evolved and their precursors lived on?

I won't get into the problem of the statistical improbabilities of multiple, major evolutionary changes occurring simultaneously which many non-religious scientists have raised.

Does anyone have thoughts or insights on this? I am really curious.


JMG said...

That's a great question. I've heard the part about why are there still chimps, but not the question of why we don't have any more primitive people when we still have chimps. That does seem to prove an inconsistency in the theory.

Brent said...

Good questions.

I'd like to say that this subject falls outside of my expertise as well. However, my understanding of evolution keeps these things in mind:

1. The theory of evolution does not even begin to answer all questions. Most of the details have not been uncovered yet because most of them will likely never be known.
2. Evolution on our planet took hundreds of MILLIONS of years. It is hard to comprehend that length of time.

We often imagine evolution in a simplistic linear progression (chimps to primitive humans to advanced humans). The process was likely quite more complicated than that. Modern humans did not descend from chimps. Rather, we both probably share a common very distant ancestor.


DB Carden said...

Only 1 in 10,000 species that have ever existed on our planet exist today. All the others are extinct. For all the bally-hoo about the pervasiveness and persistence of life on this planet, that is a staggering statistic.

Concerning Neanderthals...there is a strain of thought that thinks that they were interbred with Homo Sapiens and were driven out. So that branch combined. Now I want to watch Clan of the Cave Bears.

Tony Arnold said...

DB, Clan of the Cave Bears, I laughed out load on that.

You just want to see Daryl Hannah in a cave woman outfit!