The Elements of Evolution (52) Evolution Synopsis


Evolution exhibits an identifiable driving force. ~ Israeli chemist Addy Pross

▫ Earth is a world run by microbes. Their sociality gave birth to eukaryotes, which diversified through tricks learned by their prokaryote ancestors, and evolved in constant collaboration with a microbiome.


▫ Jean-Baptiste Lamarck correctly hypothesized in 1809 that evolution proceeds adaptively via ecological interactions. Lamarckism was blithely dismissed as fantasy until corroborated during the 1st decade of the 21st century.

▫ In 1866 Gregor Mendel published a long-ignored paper that described botanical trait inheritance and conceived of physical units of heredity – an idea that descended into the concept of genes.

▫ In 1859, Charles Darwin described what is now termed phyletic gradualism: descent with modification, involving competitive “natural selection.” Further, Darwin viewed evolution as a cumulative process of increasing sophistication. On both counts Darwin was wrong. Competitive evolution is a myth, rendering natural selection vacuous. Further, the notion of progressive evolution embraced by Darwin is rubbish. Darwin’s legacy is as tarnished as it is acclaimed.


Evolutionary change is made up not of broad general patterns, but of local patterns of adaptation. ~ Roger Lewin & Robert Foley

▫ Evolution is adaptation: an outgrowth of the ecological process of living. Nature does not select – it proposes.

▫ Evolution is holistic: intertwining physicality and psychology into biomechanics. What organisms learn influences evolution.

▫ The pace of evolution is dictated by need and occasion. Evolution happens responsively and opportunistically.

▫ Evolution corresponds with function. Form is merely a constraint of incremental modification. Saltation is a loosening of the constraint of incrementalism.

▫ Evolution aims at utility, whether functional or aesthetic.

▫ Albeit arising from ecology, stress is a product of the mind. Stress responsively drives evolution. One frequent stress is thwarting and coping with pathogens. By this, and through their genic inputs, viruses have been a major force propelling evolution.

▫ Evolution exhibits both divergence and convergence.

Divergence is variation in a population which may lead to speciation. Repeated species’ splintering is adaptive radiation: a spectrum of divergence into niches.

Convergence is the dynamic of unrelated organisms arriving at the same functional solution, often via different biomechanical means. Convergence demonstrates that evolution is essentially teleological.

Evolutionary change is driven by a deterministic force, but outcomes are sensitive to seemingly inconsequential events. Evolution tends to be surprisingly repeatable among closely related lineages, but disparate outcomes become more likely as the footprint of history grows deeper. ~ Zachary Blount

▫ Evolution adaptively proceeds much like trial and error learning: an attempt is made at a goal, with restarts or refinements per feedback and performance evaluation.

▫ Adaptation builds upon a foundation of prior success. Core mechanisms are conserved. Conservation may provide evolutionary adaptability: improved ability to rapidly respond to environmental changes.

▫ Evolution demonstrates a scalar coherence from molecular to organismal.

A purpose, an intention, a design, strikes everywhere even the careless, the most stupid thinker. ~ Scottish philosopher David Hume