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Evolutionary Theory

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by digibucc, May 6, 2011.

  1. digibucc

    digibucc

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    i have a friend, who is relatively well educated, and
    definitely takes science and mathematics seriously.

    we were talking awhile ago, and he made the
    statement that:

    "given enough time, and the fact that people are becoming
    increasingly inactive, leading sedentary lives - eventually
    humans will evolve to have no legs". as though, our lifestyle
    affects our DNA with such magnitude, as to rewrite our
    physical form.

    i took the opportunity to explain that evolution is nothing
    without evolutionary pressure. that some outside force that
    makes one mutation advantageous specifically to the point
    that it allows it's holder to spread it's DNA more abundantly,
    is necessary.

    a few days ago someone posited that a civilization billions
    of years older than us would necessarily be billions of years
    "more" evolved.

    now maybe someone with a better understanding can correct
    me ( i hope not :) ) but that's simply not true, is it?

    from my understanding, that pressure is 100% necessary,
    without it evolution grinds to a halt. we are already evolved
    enough that we have almost no evolutionary pressure. And
    therefore, short of an extinction event, are unlikely to evolve
    biologically, naturally.

    sorry so long, what's the consensus?
     
  2. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Every generation, on average, is getting taller. That's evolutionary but the question is: why? Instead of losing our legs, maybe they are getting longer and weaker which allows to cover distance at about the same speed but spend less energy in the process.

    Future babies won't be legless because the legs are biologically important (major calorie burners and a main source of blood cells).

    Moreover, if we had MRI scanners a 1000 years ago, I think we could see a growth in brain use/function between then and now albeit a minor one.
     
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  3. digibucc

    digibucc

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    i think that's more because of advances in medicine. being able to grow tall
    requires eating healthy, recovering from sickness, keeping clean and safe from
    disease.

    where would the evolutionary pressure be, causing us to get longer and weaker legs?
    again, from my understanding - for evolution to occur, the pressure is necessary.

    there are always mutations, of course. but evolution occurs when a mutation makes you
    more likely to be able to spread your DNA than anyone without the mutation. more now
    than ever in our history - and only increasing - is there a lack of evolutionary pressure
    being placed on humans.
     
  4. Techtu

    Techtu

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    IMO we're always evolving, but just at such a slow rate we don't see it, nor will we ever see it until there is some true physical change to/in our bodies.

    As for civilizations being smarter than us... well yeah, that is pretty much everything that lives out your window and beyond, alot of creatures (some well before the time of humans) have become smart enough to get on with their lives without getting in the way of ours, and yet sustainable yet us humans are destroying everything around us...

    There's different takes on what people will class as smarter than us, that's just a little insight of mine before I heard to bed :p
     
  5. crazyeyesreaper

    crazyeyesreaper Chief Broken Rig

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    your correct we need pressure to evolve even then its not always about pressure it could a random fluke that proves advantagous

    example the Delta 32 gene otherwise known as CCR5 was a mutation that occured during the bubonic plague, back then are bodies evolution didnt know it at the time but it turns out those who have Delta 32 on both sides of there family aka mother and father carry the genetic mutation are immune to HIV / AIDS and many other diseases,

    so in effect a civilization thats billions of years older then are own wont always be more evolved then us simple because if pressure didnt exist to cause evolution via beneficial traits the extra time there civilization has been moving forward could result in nothing more then a technological difference. and not a physical one.

    and no there is NOT a lack of pressure

    every disease we encounter that could be an epidemic causes are body to fight back, you could say the massive numbers of diseases and possible infections and are enviroment around us will cause us to constantly evolve, it might not be visible changes but there will be genetic changes,
     
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  6. Benetanegia

    Benetanegia New Member

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    Regarding your friend's claim. NO that won't happen.

    Like you said, evolution is mostly based on having descent, the individuals of a species with the highest surviving rate have more descent, pure statistics at work. Usually this higher surviving rate comes from an unprecedented advantage that either makes these individuals more likely to survive an external pressure or that regardless of their habilty to survive, makes them more appealing to the opposite sex, none of which a sedentary live represents. A sedentary live does not make you more successful nor does it increase your life quality and health (it's the opposite in fact), so a sedentary individual is more likely to fail in successfull yspreading he's DNA. Also for evolution to happen in that direction, there should be a direct relation between leg length and sedentarism rate for that to happen, and there's no relation as far as I can tell between how long your legs are and how prone to being sat you are. However long legs tend to be more attractive to the opposite sex that short legs and that may actually have a significant statistical weight.

    Now regarding your argument about a pressure being needed, I don't think that it's needed. Usually it is needed for what we perceive as positive evolution, but evolution itself always happens even if it's actually an involution. For instance our better health care will innevitably make humans weaker, because now we can live despite weaknesses that would have meant death in the past, and of course those natural weaknesses are inherited to our descent, a clear example is diabetes or myopia.

    Our friendlier political climate (compared to previous ages) will also make us weaker physically (because only the strongest survived wars), although strangely enough it could also make us braver and belligerent at the same time, because in the past those traits usually led people to direct death and it was actually the cowards and less belligerent who could return alive from war (same for the bravest women in the losing side who would prefer to die than being raped, just as an example). Now those same traits can be attractive to the opposite sex and do not pose a (evolutionary) disadvantage at war, beause the percentage of population that is affected and killed by war is ridiculously small to make a difference (despite how horrific war is).

    Now that's something hard to say. Given the exact same circunstances, that is almost guaranteed, but the exact same circunstances never happen. For instance dinosaurs had much more time to evolve than us on the same planet and they never came close to what mammals have achieved in a far shorter time. Life is limited enough in the universe that it would be imposible to tell if any life other than in Earth could ever evolve to the point of achieving civilization, let alone predict at which rate that civilization would evolve, both culturally and genetically, which at some point are inherently related, like in the examples I mentioned above, but that could happen at any level. Who says that our level of intelligence is required in order to create a civilization? IMO our presence completely ruins the posibilities of other animals to reach a point where they can create their own civilization, but civilizations came (or allowed the evolutive path that led to) mostly from our outstanding hability to communicate, who can assure that if we never existed, wouldn't be the parrots, bees or dolphins the ones to first create a civilization? That civ would most definately be different and because they completely lack hands and have much smaller brains their science and technology would never attain our level (primates) or it would take longer, but according to modern studies their social intelligence doesn't seem to be much worse than that of some primates.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2011
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  7. D4S4

    D4S4

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    women find taller men more attractive, taller men get more pu... uh, chances to procreate.

    i think that today, evolution favors how sexy you are (from a purely genetic standpoint) and how smart you are, smarter ppl will make themselves appear sexier and otherwise more attractive than others.

    and i found something very interesting going out to a club - there was a techno party (dave clarke :D) and almost EVERYONE were of a smaller, more slender build (about 65kg) compared to other clubs/events where there is a wide variety of body types :wtf:
     
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  8. digibucc

    digibucc

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    bene & cray, great posts :) I am loving this forum.
    and great point too D4.

    there is still pressure for sure, but no where near
    on the scale it has been historically, simply because
    of our technology. but what i was missing was that
    evolution->forward is not the only way.

    it won't be so much evolution, as pollution.
     
  9. scaminatrix

    scaminatrix

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    I believe evolution is still changing us slowly - I've got double-jointed thumbs and shoulders and there was some guy born without an appendix...

    Pressure probably isn't going to come from our environment, but probably more from our thinking/actions, or illnesses (like the guy born without an appendix - that one amazes me)
     
  10. the54thvoid

    the54thvoid

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    There as an article somewhere recently about evolution and the notion it has stopped for humans.

    As i'm sure Ben alluded to, evolution works like this:

    You have a genetic difference from the normal population. That difference does nothing for you. But one day the physical environment changes and that difference gives you an edge in survival. This increase in you survival chance, played over thousands of generations leads to the prevalence of your genetic difference being the norm.

    The problem is today, the environment is controlled by our technology and our ability to manipulate our surroundings (heat, power, shelter, agriculture) means any genetic difference that might lead to change isn't required.

    Conversely, maladaptive genetic differences that would have led to our demise before technology aided us are allowed to carry on, weaknesses become inherited and the species itself grows weaker as medicine and science allows the frail to survive.

    Evolution by necessity requires adaptation to a stressful environment to lead to positive change. Without both of these in action, evolution is rendered ineffectual and devolution is allowed to arise.
     
  11. Jetster

    Jetster

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    This question is too much presure. I think we have not been around that long and dont have much time left.
     
  12. Bundy

    Bundy

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    IMO it requires pressure to maintain distinction between species. Driven far enough, this pushes species further apart and is seen as evolution.

    Remove pressure and the requirement for distinction of traits is also removed, so this will allow the borders of species to become 'blurred'. Left long enough, this might be seen as evolution as well because the nature of a unique species will certainly change.
     
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  13. Techtu

    Techtu

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    It appears we as a simple life form may of started without the need of natural selection. Have a little read of this :)

     
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  14. LAN_deRf_HA

    LAN_deRf_HA

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    We're not climbing trees anymore, but we still have finger prints. It's rare to "unevolve" a feature gained, like legs, unless placed in a situation where we don't need them and they present a waste of nutrients to grow and maintain. How could that happen when the reason we wouldn't need them in his scenario is due to absurd prosperity?

    Height is an interesting one. While women prefer taller men, men prefer shorter women. I swear women have either stayed short or gotten shorter. I'd wager a large part of the upward trend in average height isn't selective breeding as much as it's all the vitamins and hormones we pack into our food and that seeps into our drinking water.

    In general it feels like for every evolutionary pressure we're placed under there's some relief to it. Dumb people still breed, if anything they breed more. So I think the brain size increase is probably from stimuli being greater than in the past, as we've seen the brains of people that are under-stimulated, like they were trapped in a basement or something, are greatly undersized. So it's not that people are evolving to better live in the tech world. Despite the horror movies our care and prevention measures greatly limit disease outbreaks so we're unlikely to ever have that sort of natural selection again.

    All in all it's an incredibly silly discussion, our future evolution. I mean short of an apocalyptic society reset event, we're on the verge of total control of our form and function. Evolution in the animalistic, biological sense will cease before the end of this century.
     
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  15. digibucc

    digibucc

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    yes, that's how i see it too.
     
  16. Benetanegia

    Benetanegia New Member

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    I swear that the opening scene of the movie "Idiocracy" scared the shit out of me, because as exagerated as it is in the film, it may actually be happening already.

    I don't agree (with the timeline basically). I don't think we are advanced enough to completely negate/substitute biological evolution. Before the end of the century we may be able to make some minor tweaks to our DNA, one amino acid here or there. Change the color of hair or the eyes of our children and so on.

    In reality I don't doubt that we would be able to change everything in the DNA, upside down, make some mayor changes, what I really doubt and I'm 100% sure of, is that we will not be able to know what those changes would really make in a near future. Despite our advancements in many areas, we are nowhere near close enough to understanding complex systems. It's like with biospheres or the atmosphere itself, we know pretty much everthing about them and compared to DNA, they are stupidly simple, and although we can predict their behaviour, more or less, we constantly fail in predicting them with 100% accuracy. On biospheres, far too often, we create more trouble than good when we are trying to help. I HOPE that in 50 years time, we are wise enough to not mess around with our DNA in the same way we mess aroud with our environment or we are doomed.

    Another thing about auto-evolving ourselves is something that was brilliantly presented in Stargate SG1 with the demise of the Asgard race. The demise basically happened because they had auto-replicated themselves so many times that their code was broken and because they had been genetically altered in the past to be "perfect", there was no enough diversity on their DNA to find a solution. Now it would be very presumptous of us humans to think that we can create 100% accurate copies of our DNA (or make 100% accurate changes for that matter) when we are not even able to create an storage medium for our computers that is 100% copy-error free.

    And that's also how natural evolution would still happen, if we are not able to make 100% accurate changes, although we would be making huge changes to our evolutive pattern, we would only control 99% of it and at least 1% would be in the hands of natural selection, potentially changing us with unforeseen consecuences, despite our 99% control over our DNA.
     
  17. Techtu

    Techtu

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    Oh really? :)

    Designer Babies: A Right to Choose?

    Bare in mind the thread date... 2009.
     
  18. digibucc

    digibucc

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    valid points in their own right, and great sg1 ref :) but missing the point i think...

    we don't have to be able to modify anything about ourselves to say biological evolution has halted,not a single thing.

    the only thing necessary to stop evolution in the darwin, biological, natural selection sense, is to have enough technology
    that removes that evolutionary pressure.

    again, it can always come back. an extinction event or even much less, could tilt the balance so far as to make it active
    again. but when the majority of people have a pretty even chance to breed, there is no selective advantage anymore.
    no selective advantage, no pressure, means no biological evolution.

    and again, i see it as pollution. look at octomom or one of the many others. 10+ children. you can barely care for a single
    one, but because of medicine, technology, and prosperity, they will live and spread. strictly evolutionarily speaking, that
    should not be the case.
     
  19. Benetanegia

    Benetanegia New Member

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    But that's because you are still seeing evolution only as pressure > change and that is not correct. Evolution happens everyday everywhere, in the exact same moment a mutation happens evolution happens a bit. I already exposed the case of advanced medicine making our species weaker because there's no pressure forcing us to be stronger. In fact it was quite the opposite what happened, pressure from diseases forced the evolution towards the stronger line. Deviation will always happen but it happens both ways, so under the pressure of disease we get stronger, because only the strongest ones survives. Without the pressure of disease both lines survive and in the end we get weaker. Well here I have to explain that when I mean "we become weaker" it means according to evolution we are biologically weaker, why? Well because our evolution might stagnate, but viruses and bacteria will not be so kind to stay with us, all the contrary medicines make them stronger and it amplifies their evolution.
     
  20. digibucc

    digibucc

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    but no, it doesn't. that's point i'm trying to make. yes it may be change, it may be
    mutation, but it is NOT evolution by natural selection any longer. i am talking about
    a very specific scientific theory, and random mutation alone is not enough to say
    we are still evolving.

    for it to be evolution, natural selection is necessary. our society has largely negated
    natural selection - at least to the point that no random mutation is more likely than
    any other or existing ones, to spread dna. we live in an age of equalization, where
    things that would have stopped you even 150 years ago, no longer do.

    artificial insemination, genetic engineering, advanced medicine. good technologies to
    understand, for sure - but they effectively stop evolution by natural selection.
     
  21. trickson

    trickson OH, I have such a headache

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    Well if evolution was real and it really did take place then why is it that so many forms of life on this rock go extinct ? I mean if pressure and environment is responsible for evolution then they would just evolve into some thing that could adapt rather than die off completely . Evolution is just not a concept that I agree with at all . We are what we are and that is that .
     
  22. digibucc

    digibucc

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    evolution is based on random mutation. if you are lucky enough to have one that is
    advantageous, you evolve and get a chance to spread your DNA. that in no way
    guarantees you will have successive advantageous mutations, simply that you had
    one.

    the random mutations happen anyway. the pressure is what decides whether a mutation
    is advantageous or not. it doesn't CAUSE advantageous mutations, and i think that's where
    you are misunderstanding the theory.

    how anyone could not believe in evolution with the evidence available today, short of
    voluntarily not caring enough to learn, i can not understand.
     
  23. trickson

    trickson OH, I have such a headache

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    I have not seen one thing on this planet that has evolved ! Your theory maybe sound but it is not practical . One mutation will not spread one mutation will not cause a species to evolve , If this were the case like I said why are there so many species dieing off rather than just mutating ? No my friend the fact that a genetic mutation could take too long to even be effective would rule out evolution . We are not monkeys as they are STILL on this planet ! We are not descendants of them as there still among us . Theory's are fine but proof is all around you .
     
  24. Techtu

    Techtu

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    That alone is not strictly true, try looking at it this way...

    We are not descendants from any monkey infact we are just another species of monkey that led it's own path & evolution into what we are today. Look at the fish for example, there are many kinds of species yet they are all fish.
     
  25. Sasqui

    Sasqui

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    Basic premise of evolution is: Beings with successful traits survive to produce offspring that have those same traits that continue survival. Looking at the other side of the coin, it means the beings that lack the specific traits to survive either die, or don't produce offspring.

    Basically, there is more likelihood of offspring from a group with more successful traits, or those that simply produce more offspring. Production of more offspring in humans is driven by many factors, including socioeconomic ones.

    Looking at the state of welfare and child support in this country, more kids mean more money. So people on welfare reproduce faster than those that aren't, and will become the larger population of the gene pool.

    So... in 1000 years, just about everyone will be on welfare and enjoy the fact that computers can do everything for them. Perhaps people who are accidentally born without legs may indeed find it helpful in those circumstances... hell, legs might be in the way by then, and mates will be attracted to others without legs, so the population of legless people will increase. I've never slept with any woman without legs, so I can't tell you if it's attractive or not. I do know that legs get in the way (sometimes) :laugh:

    Bottom line, we'll be a bunch of legless welfare recipients in the year 3000. Computers will be self replicating and do just about everything for us. That's my evolutionary prediction.

    Caveat: most of the above is *completely* tongue in cheek
     
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