Darwin-L Message Log 1:134 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:134>From tclarke@uoguelph.ca  Wed Sep 15 15:44:46 1993

Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1993 16:32:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tom Clarke <tclarke@uoguelph.ca>
Subject: Re: Lamarkianism in linguistic change
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Wed, 15 Sep 1993, Jesse Vaughan wrote:

> My understanding of evolution comes from a background in paleontology.  As
> I see it, evolution is the observation that the oldest rocks contain the
> remains of the simplest organisms and that progressively younger rocks
> contain the remains of progressively more complex organisms.  Evolution,
> then, boils down to the FACT that "things change."  Maybe we geologists and
> paleontologists assume this, and tend to SAY "evolution" when we actually
> MEAN "processes or mechanisms that have resulted in evolution."  When
> speaking to fellow geologists/paleontologists, each of us understands the
> assumption.

  When I step on a beetle, 'things change' in a rather drastic way,
 but that isn't evolution.  The organic sense of evolution is a change
 in the allele frequencies of a population...  the other senses of
 evolution I don't feel are really 'evolution' for a variety of
 reasons.  As for the progression from simple to complex, I could
 show you a whole host of insects that for one reason or another have
 gone from a complex 'generalist' form to a comparatively simple
 'specialist' form.  If complexity is not selected for (and complexity
 tends to be energetically expensive) it will disappear.  It could
 be argued that in fact the trend is towards simplicity and not
 complexity as highly complex organisms lose unneeded aspects of
 their morphology and behavioral repitoire as they specialise into
 particular niches.  Parasites and parasitoids are good examples of
 this loss in complexity.

   On the other hand I remember reading something to the effect that
 generalist species do better in the long run then specialist species...


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