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Oladele A. OGUNSEITAN oaogunse at UCI.EDU
Tue Sep 3 16:40:09 EST 1996

	What must one call "gradual extinction" of species, if not 
evolution running "backwards" ?


On 3 Sep 1996, Nicholas Landau wrote:

> arthurc at crl.com (Arthur Chandler) writes:
> > My dictionary gives a definition to this term in such a way as to imply 
> >it is a working concept in biology:
> >    
> >    Biology. Degeneration as distinguished from evolution.
> > Is this term an often-employed construct or model in biology? And does 
> >it imply that evolution means a kind of progress?
> > Thanks for any help you can provide.
> Never heard the term used professionally, myself.
> Evolution is not defined as "progress."  It is defined as a change in
> gene frequency in a population over time.  If the frequency of people
> with tails in a human population increased over three generations,
> for example, this would be evolution.  This despite the fact that
> there exists a popular notion that the loss of the tail was a
> progressive development for primates.
> Evolution cannot "run backwards."  It is not a directed phenomenon,
> although it can proceed in a given direction at a given time.
> Divest yourself of teleological thinking, and the kosmik truth will
> seem less muddied.  Well, if you are a nihilist, anyway.
> Nick Landau
> Dept. Biochemistry and Microbiology
> Rutgers University

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