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what is evolution

Campbell_Muir at CC.SFU.CA Campbell_Muir at CC.SFU.CA
Sun Sep 22 15:47:02 EST 1991

F.Chiafari writes that aligators have stopped evolving. Is it possible
for any organism (non-static by definition) to cease its evolution? 
It occures to me that we Biologists do not understand the genome fully 
enough to make statements on the stasis of a particular organism's
evolution. We certainly have not sequenced the aligator genome yet so how 
can we say that it is in an evolutionarily static state? Just because we cannot
find the evidence of a particular set of events that is not sufficient to say   
that the events are not happening. 
I think that, in our arrogance,  we deem that an organism has stopped       
evolving when it is no longer becoming less like itself and more like
a human being. We have to divorce ourselves of the notion that evolution
is a climb up a ladder with humans at the top. Our ecological survival 
depends on a balance of "higher and lower" organisms. I think that it is more  
valid to consider that ALL life that exists today is the product of a long
evolutionary history and so in that sense ALL life can be considered to be      
"most evolved" (reminiscent of Lewis Thomas'"Lives of a Cell").
As far as the the concern expressed that "science degrades to philosophy...":
I submit that we are despiratly in need of such degradation to a more 
unbiased (logical) state.

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