June 13, 2008

Directionality in Evolution?

From Living the Scientific Life:
Evolution is a random process -- or is it? I ask this because we all can name examples of convergent evolution where very different organisms arrived at similar solutions to the challenges they are faced with. One such example are the striking morphological similarities between sharks (marine fishes) and dolphins (marine mammals). Thus, based on observations of convergent evolution, one is tempted to hypothesize that, even if evolution itself is random, the "end result" of evolution is not. In fact, this is the central premise of an interesting book by Simon Conway Morris, Life's Solution (Cambridge University Press, 2004), where he postulates that ''the evolutionary routes are many, but the destinations are limited''.

This is in direct conflict with the late Stephen Jay Gould's hypothesis that a far different evolutionary outcome would occur if we could only replay the "tape of life". So which is it?

Read More: Here

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