extinction

Extinction: When evolution is suddenly found to have a purpose

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EasternCougar.jpg
Eastern cougar, an endangered large cat

And human beings do too, apparently. From ScienceDaily:

The sixth mass extinction is underway, this time caused by humans. A team of researchers have calculated that species are dying out so quickly that nature’s built-in defense mechanism, evolution, cannot keep up. If current conservation efforts are not improved, so many mammal species will become extinct during the next five decades that nature will need 3-5 million years to recover to current biodiversity levels. And that’s a best-case scenario.

Hmmm. If evolution is without purpose, as Darwinians insist, how can it be “nature’s built-in defense mechanism”? If it isn’t predictable, as Stephen Jay Gould insisted, what’s with this “best-case scenario”?

How the smaller mammals will have to evolve and diversify over the next 3-5 million years/Matt Davis, Aarhus University

For that matter, if consciousness is an evolved illusion, aren’t all the resulting concerns illusory too?

The Darwinism taken for granted in evolutionary biology today is almost the worst place to begin to discuss preventing habitat loss and thus extinctions. Everything the Darwinist says when he discusses what he really believes would be a disincentive to action.

“Although we once lived in a world of giants: giant beavers, giant armadillos, giant deer, etc., we now live in a world that is becoming increasingly impoverished of large wild mammalian species. The few remaining giants, such as rhinos and elephants, are in danger of being wiped out very rapidly,” says Professor Jens-Christian Svenning from Aarhus University, who heads a large research program on megafauna, which includes the study.

The research team doesn’t have only bad news, however. Their data and methods could be used to quickly identify endangered, evolutionarily distinct species, so that we can prioritise conservation efforts, and focus on avoiding the most serious extinctions.

As Matt Davis says: “It is much easier to save biodiversity now than to re-evolve it later.” Paper. (paywall) – Matt Davis, Søren Faurby, Jens-Christian Svenning. Mammal diversity will take millions of years to recover from the current biodiversity crisis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201804906 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1804906115
More.

Indeed, assuming that “re-evolving it” is even possible. These researchers are surely onto something but, to make headway, we need to tackle the problem of defining classification of animal in a way that makes more sense than the current biological species concept, a hopeless mess. If we could only preserve half, for example, which would be the most critical half?

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See also: Sixth mass extinction, but no news on defining “species”?

Extinction (or maybe not): New Scientist offers five “Lazarus species”

Researchers: Paleontologists are naming too many species

and

A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans

One Reply to “Extinction: When evolution is suddenly found to have a purpose

  1. 1
    R J Sawyer says:

    The biological species concept will always be a hopeless mess. Evolution guarantees this. If we had an example of every generation of animal from the first archaic bacterial cell to the peak of evolution, the orange tabby, there is no point along this where you can point at two sequential generations and say that the later one was a new species.

    The species concept is simply an attempt by humans to categorize all life forms into a hierarchical classification. It is an attempt to reflect reality, not dictate it.

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