Science Magazine

October 3, 2009 at 9:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Well worth a look. The October issue of Science magazine has a series of articles on a human discovery which may cause a revision in the theory of evolution:  The discovery of Ardipithecus Ramidus, a skeleton a million years older than Lucy.

An  article in Friday’s Toronto Star on the issue and the surrounding controversy which contained the usual elementary errors about evolution. The article asks “Did apes descend from us?” contrary to the supposed orthodoxy that we descend from chimps.

The underlying notion in this seems to be that evolution is a rational process and we are the ultimate product of it (rather like that famous descent of man illustration). In fact, evolution follows no long term plan, and a short term advantage may be a long term disadvantage.

Humans may be superior to apes (though one anthropologist in the article suggests gorilla have evolved more than us), but there’s no master evolutionary plan here. And furthermore, we didn’t evolve from chimps. We share a common ancestor with chimps.

A friend of mine who doesn’t believe humans descend from apes asked my opinion, but gave me the impression this would weaken evolutinoary theory. I printed the article, but haven’t dug into them yet. In any event, whether or not this causes a revision in the theory of evolutino is ultimately not that important. I think few scientists have a vested interest in a particular version of the theory (amybe I’m wrong about that). The important thing is we emerge with a truer picture. That’s the scientific method. You procede with an assumption until it’s proven false, then you modify your theory in light of it. Unlike the religious based opposition to evolution which begins with a dogma and by and large. resists any attempt to modify that theory.

There’s an interesting dialogue on this matter on The Panda’s Thumb blog.

As to the articles, you can download the articles the magazine  for free  – registration is required.

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