A recent New Scientist article discussed the "Tree of Life" used by evolutionary scientists for so long, and the current research and debate that seems to call for a substantial change in the appearance, even the truth of the Tree of Life depiction of the evolutionary process.
It seems obvious that Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) is real,-the genetically determined and scientifically verified history of genetic transfer between species, resulting in entirely new hybrid species, and/or new species that combine into manifestations of the characteristics of each of the precursors, such as reptilian species combining with mammal species to produce creatures that are of origin in one species, yet meta-morph into another version of the precursor contributor. They must be scientifically demonstrable; the first rule of science is that results can be duplicated through repetitive conduct of experiments.
The Tree and the Web are both right, each a self evident truth reflective of the concept of evolution.
It was, in reality, the very shallow trunk that began the evolutionary process. It is easy to see that the branching effect of HGT flattens the tree over time into a web, so that if we looked at the tree from the side we would see a short trunk and flattened, rather than vertical , very, very wide branching effect, with the branches not only growing horizontally from the truck, but "meeting up" (HGT) with branches merging farther and farther out in the spread, creating the web.
Which brings the question; what branch merging and melding has occurred that has not yet been observed? Could the simultaneous existence of Autism, and Idiot Savant, and other conditions, just be evidence of branches that are optimized in their discrete performance of certain functions, while at the same time evidence of melding and branching that fails the survival test?
Can we "select" for the optimal functions we want artificially, or have to wait for nature to "approve" the development of these and other functions through Natural Selection processes that select and reinforce for survival?
Are these and other functions artificially induced through reaction with the environment, like radiation and pollutants, with no inherent "survival" characteristics, or will nature determine that these are indeed worthy of meeting the definition of reinforcing for species survival?
If we can select positively for genotypes we want, can we select negatively as well for genotypes we don't want? Should we?
Is genetic treatment an opportunity for species improvement, or a closing off of Nature's way to select for species survival?
How many thousands of species have come into being and vanished not only through lack of strong enough survival characteristics, but through accidents of nature like volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, and other reasons?
More than a few.
A tree, flattened into a web with a trunk, adequately explains the available evidence.
As further, and continuing proof, the human species is busily responding to the thousands of evolutionary pressures imposed by modern society; so diverse and compelling that the evolutionary process is speeding up dramatically, to the point where comparing humans even a few hundred years from now, to those of today will be astounding.
If nature can cause the average human to gain over one foot in height, and over 50 lbs in weight in just a few centuries, can we foolishly determine that Nature isn't busily doing things right now we can only suspect?