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back to article Why does natural selection take so long to get results?

Also in this week's column: Why isn't pubic hair the same colour as hair on your head? Are there people with no sense of smell? Why does natural selection take so long to get results? Asked by Colin Jackson of Telford, UK The reader further asks, "when controlled breeding programs can get results in a relatively much shorter …

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One kind to another?

Natural selection through changes in an environment can lead to changes in an organism. That is why we see so many different species around the globe. However, natural selection has never been shown to change an organism from one type to another. The yeast mentioned in this article is still yeast. A bird can adapt to a new environment and get a label as a new species of bird. But, it is still a bird. The genetic information for it to adapt was already present. Do not place your faith in natural selection. It may help an organism survive in a new environment but it will never prove 'goo to you' evolution.

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Oh boy, Danny

Danny:

"A bird," you write, parroting an oft-used ID line, "can adapt to a new environment and get a label as a new species of bird. But, it is still a bird."

This is my favorite type of argument: One which as its premise states something entirely untrue. Overlooking for the moment that 'species', 'genus', and 'family' are rather arbitrary classification points used to clarify what is essentially a continuum of fauna variants, let's continue:

If you take a look at the fossil and DNA patterns of - interestingly - birds, you find that at one time they were, in fact, dinosaurs. At some point, they changed quite a bit, stopped being dinosaurs, and were birds. I'm oversimplifying for expediency's sake, but that's the basic idea.

I'm consistently amazed by the ability of some people to wilfully ignore the forest for the trees. Suppose we reframe the argument in terms of color.

In effect, Danny, then, your argument is this: Red can change a little bit if you change its hue or brightness, but it could never change into Blue. Red and Blue are different colors - they can't change into each other!

Well, as anyone who's seen a gradient knows, this isn't true. There's something called purple in between, and it's the reason your argument is, satisfyingly, specious.

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Evidence please?

David,

Thank you for your comments. I especially like the red vs. blue argument. I'll have to remember that one. If red changed to blue then it would no longer be red. Being an artist, I can relate to this. The fact is that red can never be changed to blue no matter what colors you add because they are both primary colors! But thanks for playing.

Colors are not why I'm posting a reply comment though. I am posting a reply because you said that if I "take a look at the fossil and DNA patterns of - interestingly - birds, you find that at one time they were, in fact, dinosaurs" I have yet to see these "patterns" in fossils or DNA. Could you provide the evidence for these?

You also said, "At some point, they changed quite a bit, stopped being dinosaurs, and were birds. I'm oversimplifying for expediency's sake, but that's the basic idea."

That's a wonderful idea, but please do elaborate. It seems like nothing more than a hypothesis to me. At what point did dinos become birds? Where is an example of a scale transitioning into a feather? When they are found in the fossil record they are found in their current, moddern form.

Lastly, please do not associate me with ID. I know who my creator is. Thanks for the intelligent reply!

Danny

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Specious species

I've posted a riposte to some of Dr Juan's remarks on my site. The main thrust of which points out the fatal flaw in his discussion that natural selection somehow acts on populations, it doesn't, it acts on individuals.

http://www.sciencebase.com/science-blog/why-does-natural-selection-take-so-long.html

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