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Anybody Enjoy Evolution as Fact and Theory?

Gerald Wilgus

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
But, the addition of plate tectonics, which became accepted in my lifetime, explained; Biogeography, Habitat tracking, The Wallace Line that splits Sulawesi (separation between Austrailian and Asian species), and my favorite, why there are common trilobite genera between Oklahoma and the Moroccan Anti-Atlas in the Devonian. The amazing Journey of Otherlands Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth's Extinct Worlds: Halliday, Thomas: 9780593132883: Amazon.com: Books Shows how modern understanding reveals the fundamentally different ecologies over time ending with the Ediacaren the first segmented organisms, from which comes the homeobox genes that are highly conserved (all animals share homeobox genes) yet are modulated in some ways that determine different body plans.

Then, I am getting through Steven J. Gould's, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, slowly. I can get through about 10 pages, making sure I understand the terminology and arguments. ponder it for a while, then back for another round. During my lifetime I have seen evidence of the stasis of taxa over time except for revolutions that reset the evolutionary clock. So, I have had to embrace contingency, like during the Triassic, which until the midpoint was a world recovering from the great dieing with at least equal numbers of proto mammals and proto dinosaurs, until the massive Central Atlantic Magmatic Province started, creating the Atlantic. High CO² levels. The dinosaurs became dominent and the mammals, small scurrying things, were only bit players for 120 million years. Some of what happened is left in the geological record or the fossil record.

While I know classic taxonomy, I am starting to learn Cladistics, and nothing in that makes sense except for evolution and natural selection.
 
I'm not quite as good at keeping up with the various geological eras but it's really fascinating how the fossils and geology give us tantalizing clues at billions of years of fascinating existence on earth. Humans are here for a little while, I suppose.
It always amazes me. My favorite slightly related theory is the idea of the big bang, a sort of cosmic starting-pistol that began the great race of--pretty much everything.
It's something like a Winslow Homer painting or a violin record with Efrem Zimbalist. I can't always imagine how it was done, nor can I keep up with the techniques, but I can stand there & marvel at it. So I do.
 
I'm not quite as good at keeping up with the various geological eras but it's really fascinating how the fossils and geology give us tantalizing clues at billions of years of fascinating existence on earth. Humans are here for a little while, I suppose.
It always amazes me. My favorite slightly related theory is the idea of the big bang, a sort of cosmic starting-pistol that began the great race of--pretty much everything.
It's something like a Winslow Homer painting or a violin record with Efrem Zimbalist. I can't always imagine how it was done, nor can I keep up with the techniques, but I can stand there & marvel at it. So I do.
Earth's history is so strange that one cannot imagine the like. I am just blown away with modern understanding of that history, so much only learned in my lifetime
 
Evolution always fascinated me but the way I learn is different to most people. To me the understanding of concepts behind the theories was always far more important than remembering facts like names and dates.

Australia actually does have a native conifer tree, a very small patch of them hidden away in a remote forest in western Tasmania. That was a closely guarded scientific secret until a couple of years ago when they were threatened by bush fires. One last scraggly little bunch of trees that didn’t evolve when the rest of the land did.

Most Australian plants adapted to not just tolerate fire but to rely on it. We have many species of plant that won’t flower until after they have been burnt. This isn’t unique to Australia either. South Africa’s national emblem, the Protea, is another of these plants.

In my home state of South Australia we have lost more than 2000 species of plant and more than 30 species of animal, their extinction directly attributed to the prevention of bush fires.

Naturally I tend to have a few arguments with people fresh out of university who think they’re saving the planet, we don’t live in Europe and we don’t have pine forests. The rules are different here.
 
Evolution is amazing and so full of chance. I saw a documentary where it noted that at a stage when mammals were fish, they would hide in shoals from more aggressive species, and that it was to some extent chance that this strategy succeeded. Plus I've heard we were fortunate that insects didn't develop lungs, or they would be in charge now. However we are not doing so well in terms of our temporary stewardship, I would think.
 
I do appreciate the great work that has been done tracing the evolution of all life on Earth, but my particular interest is mostly in humans and other primates. From time to time, we seem to exhibit every known behaviour, good or bad. We keep pets, but there are many examples of other species trying to adopt orphans, even from another class entirely. The triggers for nurturing behaviour seem pretty universal.


In recent history, I think the advent of agriculture has favoured a new mindset. A farmer knows what he will be doing every day for years ahead, weather permitting. A hunter knows what's in season, but he has to get up every morning sniffing for a new opportunity. People who think like that now are often unemployable, so they are dying off.

There were many hominid species that did not succeed. The Neanderthals were stronger, with bigger brains, but they never developed trade or military alliances, and they are no more. We seem to produce a wide range of xenophobia, so we can keep finding the best balance between trust and caution around strangers. Our monogamous instincts probably hit the very best compromise between Chimps and Bonobos - loyal enough to keep fathers involved, since 90% of the kids they raise are actually theirs, and loose enough to conserve the genes of traders, troubadours, and heroes, who are poor at raising kids, but a benefit to the community. This also lets women convince sterile men that they have children to support, making everyone in the family happier.
 
Theory of Evolution: Adapt or die. Your choice.

Why does everyone hate me when I say that about global warming? :)
 
Theory of Evolution: Adapt or die. Your choice.

Why does everyone hate me when I say that about global warming? :)
Well, adapt or die out only counts before reproductive age, unless there is an advantage in raising children to reproductive age.

There are many misunderstandings about adaption and change. A primary one is that all features in a lineage is the result of evolutionary adaption. Many features, like the human mind, just came along for the ride as other behaviors were selected. That is especially evident in the modular brain. Never think that all you see in an organism is the direct result of natural selection. There is the Red Queen of sexual selection, too.
 
It's been very useful to understand patterns. But a lot of evolutionairy history reads like a horror story.
There is nothing scarier I can think of than the ability for gas in space to over vast amounts of time re-arrange itself into organic matter capable of experiencing something we'd describe as being eaten alive.
 
I still marvel at the factual evidence of America's "Great Basin".

Which pretty much covers all of the state of Nevada. Where looking at most of the mountains you can observe all the erosion of time against the landscape, usually in the form of horizontal etching of rock which reflects a waterline in a distant past. When much of our deserts were actually water. Talk about geological evolution....

Desert Storm.jpg


Photo taken somewhere off highway 395 between Reno and Las Vegas.
 
Talk about geological evolution....

Similar thing in Australia but different, the whole centre third of the country used to be a shallow sea between two large islands. The states of SA and NT were completely covered in water, now you find fossilized shells everywhere right the way through that huge area.
 
It is really interesting and I have always loved seeing what new and discoveries they make digging up the old bones. Especially dinosaurs.

Just a week or so ago they had a successful mission (NASA DART) to hit an asteroid with a spacecraft. Now if we had only had that 65 million years ago we might have dinosaur petting zoos. ;)

11111.jpg


Btw I do follow a religion that tells the story in a different way, but I don't let one interfer with the other. Something like give to science what is science's and to God what is God's.
 
Similar thing in Australia but different, the whole centre third of the country used to be a shallow sea between two large islands. The states of SA and NT were completely covered in water, now you find fossilized shells everywhere right the way through that huge area.
And your Ediacaran hills was shallow seafloor that contains fossils of the earliest complex animals from 550,000,000 years ago. In my post I thought that I pointed out that genes that control segmentation, homeobox genes, are the common genetic elements in all animals. They are highly conserved and rarely mutate.

All this because the world was coming out of "snowball earth" because so much oxygen was pumped into the atmosphere to imbalance temperature such that glaciers existed on the equatorial ocean. The more complex organisms probably existed among deep sea vents, like some now found on today's hydrothermal vents, before recolonizing shallow areas. Snowball earth defines the end of the microbial world and the start of a world with animals.
 
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I still marvel at the factual evidence of America's "Great Basin".

Which pretty much covers all of the state of Nevada. Where looking at most of the mountains you can observe all the erosion of time against the landscape, usually in the form of horizontal etching of rock which reflects a waterline in a distant past. When much of our deserts were actually water. Talk about geological evolution....

View attachment 86483

Photo taken somewhere off highway 395 between Reno and Las Vegas.
I got to the eastern edge of the basin and range while fossil and mineral collecting out of Delta, Utah, near the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville. Want to know how thick the earth's crust is in that region? You take the range top to range top distance across a basin, and that is the thickness of the crust
 
I still marvel at the factual evidence of America's "Great Basin".

Which pretty much covers all of the state of Nevada. Where looking at most of the mountains you can observe all the erosion of time against the landscape, usually in the form of horizontal etching of rock which reflects a waterline in a distant past. When much of our deserts were actually water. Talk about geological evolution....

View attachment 86483

Photo taken somewhere off highway 395 between Reno and Las Vegas.
Poor ol' Nevada is being pulled apart by Utah and California. It has been put forth that eventually the Sea of Cortez will occupy the middle of the state. I guess I-80 will have to be re-routed. :)
 
I hear that biologists wonder why it took billions of years for single-cell life to evolve to multi-cellular. I wonder if it just had to wait for the background radiation to decay.
 

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