Physical Anthropology

What is Evolution



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Evolution is life. Evolution is current. Evolution is undeniable. Evolution is stupid, or just misunderstood.

Evolution is both a slow and steady process, as well as a fast random process. There are many mistakes and myths in evolution that we must dispel. Evolution is merely survival of good genes are removal of bad genes from the gene pool. Mutations cause a change in the genome and how an animal looks, but most mutations will result in the death of the animal.

Evolutionary myths.

1.) Humans evolved from apes.

Humans and apes are both current forms of a "common ancestor". The common ancestor would have likely split into two geographic regions or found some form of isolation. From here environmental conditions and sexual selection would have provided solutions for current problems.

2.) An "ancestor" became human quickly.

This sort of species A to species B, doesn't happen quickly, really small adaptations occur over millions of years, no one person in a life time will see "much" physiological human adaptation. Reduction in body hair would have happened slowly over 100's of thousands of years. (Maybe you know a few people who haven't lost the hairy trait).

3.) Evolution is goal set.

No matter how much a beaver wishes its arm were a chainsaw, this will never happen. Moths don't decide that blending their colours into the background would help their survival. Moths who are easy to spot are the first one eaten, which means the ones that are harder to spot will reproduce leaving better camouflage in the next generations. To find out more, look up "the industrial melanism of moths".

4.) Evolution provides the best answer to a problem.

Evolution works on an as needed basis. A simple solution will work the best, as complexity will just cause problems for the animal.

5.) Evolution is just good traits being displayed more.

This is mostly true, but mutation often supplies the best answer to an evolutionary problem, while most mutations will be sterile, good mutations that aren't sterile will become more prominent.

With these myths solved, you know what evolution mostly isn't, and partially is.

Evolution is just a selection-based process of removal of bad genes. Evolution doesn't need to take thousands of years. We can observe evolution in insects in lab experiences. We can even cause speciation by selection of crops, or traits in work animals.

Evolution is just a change from point a to point b, in the life of a species.

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