ageing as an evolutionary force

french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM french at RUST.ZSO.DEC.COM
Wed Apr 15 14:03:45 EST 1992


>    There is a fatal flaw in this particular argument.  Natural selection
> works on individuals.  If an individual were to develop the aging process
> as a way to get rid of itself (dead weight), then this individual would have
> less an advantage at passing its genes to the next generation than one
> who could stay alive and produce more offspring.
>      In order to use this argument as a way of explaining aging, one would
> have to get around this error.

I don't see the flaw.  Organisms don't get rid of themselves - orther oganisms
do it for them (ie gazelles don't eat gazelles, tigers do).  If a species or
sub-group within a species developed an immortality gene then the genetic 
variation within the group would quickly diminish and thereby reduce the 
ability of the group to adapt to evolutionary forces.  The result would be that
the new high-performance tigers would quickly eat all of the slow but 
immortal gazelles.

Perhaps if such an immortality gene ever existed, it became extinct several
billion years ago.  In geologic time, the appearance of an immortality gene would 
almost certainly result in the extinction of a species unless that species
was also fortunate enough to have evolved a workable defense against all future
enemies before it aquired the immortality gene.





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