Evolution May Be More Random Than Previously Believed

Survival of the whatever happens


What explains the incredible variety of life on Earth? It seems obvious. Evolution, of course! But perhaps not the evolution most people grew up with.

Some ecologists say the theory needs an update. They've proposed a new dynamic driving the emergence of new species, one that doesn't involve adaptations or survival of the fittest.

Give evolution enough time and space, they say, and new species can just happen. Speciation might not only be an evolutionary consequence of fitness differences and natural selection, but a property intrinsic to evolution, just as all matter has gravity.

"Our work shows that evolution wants to be diverse," said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. "It's enough for organisms to be spread out in space and time."

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  1. Ex nihilo! This is just creationism wrapped up in an animistic ethos. Bailey pointed to a workable framework that doesn’t go counter to evolution when he wrote about research in gene trait modalty some years back. Given a gene receptor exist in a fixed location, it doesn t matter if its the eye of a newt or that of an eagle that manifest in the species whichever proves the most adaptative will prevail.

  2. Al Gore may be the proof to that theory.

  3. Give evolution enough time and space, they say, and new species can just happen

    Pretty sure evolution through natural selection already covers this.

    If a random mutation does not kill the organism and it can make more offspring then it is “fit”.

    If anything the concept of “survival of the fittest” is a mis-characterization of evolution. Perhaps that should be changed to “survival of the fit enough to survive.”

    1. This. Mutations in offspring are the primary driver; the selecting mechanic is imprecise and occasionally runs into a wall (population bottlenecks or what have you). Even bad traits, if they are not “bad enough”, can contribute to fitness.

  4. Evolution’s engine is mutation over a LONG TIME.
    Natural Selection’s engine is survival of the fittest.
    Almost as wrong as Limbaugh referencing “fossil fuels” as coming from dead dinosaurs, instead of fossil fuels being carbon left from plants during the Carboniferous.

    Science, wait what?

  5. Natural selection is one known mechanism of evolution. Others, such as neutral drift, are also known.

    The argument is over the relative contribution of each, and it’s not new.

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