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:
> > DEVOLUTION
> > 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