Re: Evolutionary Adaptation

From: Byrne Hobart (
Date: Fri Aug 03 2007 - 12:21:09 MDT

> To my understanding, the chances of any adaptation being lost rest with
> the chances of the environmental trait it exploits disappearing. You'd be
> correct if civilization were about to collapse :^)

I've read (Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, I think) that "evolvability" is a
survival trait: that all else being equal, being prone to descent with
modification is going to leave you with more descendants. What I would
assume is that part of that is the ability to cut losses quickly given an
evolutionary dead end -- something expensive, but useful given abundant
resources and thus intense competition for makes (like the sort of giant
frontal lobes you need to talk someone into shimmying out of that loincloth)
might be the first characteristic your genes would want you to evolve out

This makes sense from the other direction, too: older, more complicated
organs are probably the result of many interlocking mutations. A new organ,
or a new feature, is statistically likely to be caused by just one change.

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