She shows you can make it work, if you really try, with the dinosaur extinction:
When things did settle back down, the pace of evolution would return to a virtual standstill. That’s the pattern we observe in the fossil record: disruption, change and then long periods of stasis. However, it took many years for scientists to accept this pattern. It contradicted the Darwinian paradigm, where evolution should occur through slow and gradual changes. Under the Darwinian view, the diversity of life can be explained by simply adding up many, many small inherited changes over a long period of time. Such gradualism was believed to be a necessary part of adaptation by natural selection – the process by which some variants of traits are lost each generation, because their bearers leave no offspring.
But this persistent focus on natural selection as the sole mechanism of adaptive evolution has always been a sticking point. It can’t properly explain how anything new arises. After all, natural selection is a process that eliminates unfit variants – it doesn’t create, but changes the prevalence of what’s already there. Instead, novelty must come from the purely random process of genetic mutation. The problem is that when new mutations appear, they’re usually not a good thing. They are more likely to disrupt well-adapted systems than to improve them, especially if they have a big effect. The upshot is that the evolution of something new, such as eyes or feathers, requires a heck of a long waiting time. Not only is there a long wait for a beneficial mutation to come along, but then there’s the long process of accumulating enough of them to build up, step by step, a complex new structure.Renée A. Duckworth, “Catastrophes and calms” at Psyche
Duckworth does a good job of setting forth all the Darwinian “epicycles,” how various difficulties are papered over or ignored. But then…
There’s a remarkable similarity between patterns of dynamic stability observed in evolution on the one hand, and diverse human-engineered and natural systems on the other. This suggests that there might be universal principles for how stability is maintained – even at the level of entire species. If so, taking a systems approach to evolutionary dynamics could drastically alter how we view evolution as a process. First and foremost, it makes it clear that explaining how species stay the same is just as important as explaining how they change. It also suggests that the mechanisms underlying both might be inextricably linked.Renée A. Duckworth, “Catastrophes and calms” at Psyche
Yes, indeed, Professor Duckworth. It’s called design. The design of life. Design is the outcome of intelligence.
She does a good job of pointing out how much of the history of life is really stasis:
The pattern of evolutionary stasis dominates the history of life on Earth. Yet, too often, we’re more focused on explaining change instead of understanding how things stay the same. The irony here is that the key to both of these problems might be the same. A better understanding of how populations remain stable – the feedbacks and feedforwards, the built-in flexibility and responsiveness of the system, the redundancies and mechanisms of resiliency – might enable us not only to better understand evolutionary stasis, but also allow us to predict how organisms change when their stable state is disrupted.Renée A. Duckworth, “Catastrophes and calms” at Psyche
But then whatever happened to Darwin’s claim?:
It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, wherever and whenever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.
Apparently not. And ever so slowly, that fact is beginning to sink in.
See also: Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen