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December 07, 2009

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nato

"they would have to conclude that the theory of evolution as taught today can't be true"

This happens pretty consistently. Especially when microbiological evidence started to become available in the 70s is showed a lot of the theory of that time was off, sometimes significantly so. Every time a new hominid shows up it seems to rearrange all our best guesses about hominid history, and if we find a way to get DNA evidence out of those finds it may well do it again. Of course, some hypotheses have been reinforced, even "proven" by new evidence. We thought that hyenae and canids split apart from one-another before felids and and hyenae, and then by studying gene variants we show that it must have been so. If hyenae and canids had shared gene mutations but hyenae and felids did not, out understanding of carnivore phylogeny would have been decisively overthrown. Recovered protein and DNA analyses have been showing that punctuated equilibrium is markedly more characteristic than classic gradualism, constraining the timeframes over which selective pressure could work, and forcing theorists to avail themselves of much less time when positing potential evolutionary mechanisms.

The history, of course, is in many way far more firmly established than mechanism. As Nathan points out, it can be hard to determine if a proposed dynamic would really be sufficient to yield the advertised effect. There's a great deal of work under way to examine the characteristic mutations defining clades in an attempt to more clearly decide what changes actually occurred leading to a critical speciation event, but we're certainly a ways from understanding the dynamics of mutations. They are certainly not as simple and unvariegated as once assumed, and we now understand that if they had been, very little interesting evolution would have happened.

Nathan is right in suspecting that a certain amount of the airy assertions offered by biological historians are ill-supported, but I think he's wrong to think that we have few ways of testing said assertions. It's a bit frustrating because the evidence turns up (or doesn't) more like that in a murder investigation than in the easily reproducible experiments of chemistry or physics. Nevertheless, evidence - sometimes quite dispositive evidence - does eventuate.

Siding Augusta

yeah, I agree to that idea. just for the thought that the scenario is a proof that it may perhaps unreal.

MALEGOSSIPS

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