Were we talking about Simon Conway Morris?
Yeah, we were. And get a load of this, from Cambridge Alumni Magazine (#65 Lent, p. 32):
Paleobiologist Professor Simon Conway Morris says that examination of the fossil evidence demands a radical rewriting of evolution.
Stephen Wilson, “Rethinking evolution,” Cambridge Alumni Magazine
, 2012, no.65, p.32-35.
Remember, this guy isn’t poison yet because he doesn’t agree that there is evidence for design in nature. But he says,
The idea is this: that convergence – the tendency of very different organisms to evolve similar solutions to biological problems – is not just part of evolution, but a driving force. To say this is an unconventional view would be something of an understatement. To start with an example of convergence (itself an astonishing phenomenon), take the “camera eye” – an eye comprising a lens suspended between two fluid-filled chambers, and the kind of eye which you are using to read this feature.
“If you go to the octopus and, if you’re not too squeamish, dissect it, you’ll find that it has a camera eye which is remarkably similar to our own,” says Conway Morris. “And yet we know that the octopus belongs to an invertebrate group called the cephalopod molluscs, evolutionarily very distant indeed from the chordates to which we belong.
“The common ancient ancestor of molluscs and chordates could not possibly have possessed a camera eye, so quite clearly they have evolved independently. The solution has been arrived at by completely different routes.” Or, in other words, evolution has converged on a solution.
Most biologists agree that convergence is a common occurrence; but Conway Morris goes a step further, believing that evolution converges on the best possible solution, rather than on a best fit, random solution (leading many commentators to accuse him of being a creationist – something he finds amusing, but says is rubbish).
“It all comes down to not whether convergence takes place, but whether it means anything. I think it does, not least because when thinking about the combinatorial possibilities, the numbers of things [biological solutions] that ought to work is ridiculously large, whereas we seem to find that the number of things that actually work is surprisingly small – a very small fraction of all possibilities.”
Conway Morris’d be safer as a design guy. He’d have friends.
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