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Climate change shaped “key moments” in human evolution?

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From New Scientist:

The ways in which climate affected human evolution have been hotly debated for over a century. A persistent idea is that the challenging climate of southern Africa – a sparsely vegetated, dry savannah – drove humans to walk on two legs, grow large brains and develop technology. “I was hooked on the savannah-adaptation idea in my studies in the 1980s,” says Rick Potts from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC (see diagram).

But by the 1990s, Potts had a new theory. “I realised that the critical part of the human evolutionary story is how our lineage was able to become so versatile… capable of invading habitats everywhere,” he says. We’re not master savannah inhabitants, we’re master invaders. This led Potts to suggest that maybe it was environmental change itself – not a particular environment – that drove human evolution. “A rise in variability of climate places a premium on being nimble, versatile, to ensure survival,” he says. More.

Hmmm. Climate change would necessarily help shape all kinds of evolution. One either adapts or goes extinct. While Potts’ theory is interesting, it doesn’t shed much light on why only humans became big-brained and bipedal in response to it.

See also: What we think we know about human evolution

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6 Replies to “Climate change shaped “key moments” in human evolution?

  1. 1
    Andre says:

    This is highly plausible. With the current climate change craze, look how many people are losing their minds. On this forum alone we have had ample examples of people saying A is not A. Good research and verified by the insanity we have been witnessing. There you go materialists you are the evidence for evolution. Enjoy!

  2. 2
    awstar says:

    “I realised that the critical part of the human evolutionary story is how our lineage was able to become so versatile… capable of invading habitats everywhere,” he says. We’re not master savannah inhabitants, we’re master invaders. This led Potts to suggest that maybe it was environmental change itself – not a particular environment – that drove human evolution. “A rise in variability of climate places a premium on being nimble, versatile, to ensure survival,”

    This theory is right on target. The environmental change that occurred with Noah’s Flood naturally selected Noah and his household, while all others became extinct.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    If variable environments created the genetic information necessary to live in variable environments then why can’t malaria overcome the trivial evolutionary problem of surviving in slightly colder climate? After all – according to neo-Darwinism – malaria’s population numbers should far exceed those required to produce suitable mutations necessary to survive in colder climates.

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155).
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    Michael Behe – Observed (1 in 10^20) Limit for Evolution – video – Lecture delivered in April 2015 at Colorado School of Mines
    25:56 minute quote – “This is not an argument anymore that Darwinism cannot make complex functional systems; it is an observation that it does not.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9svV8wNUqvA

    Of note: at the 39:00 minute mark of the preceding video, Dr. Behe comments on a 2014 study showing how polar bears subspeciated from brown bears by a loss of genetic information, not from a gain of genetic information.

    Further notes:

    A. L. Hughes’s New Non-Darwinian Mechanism of Adaption Was Discovered and Published in Detail by an ID Geneticist 25 Years Ago – Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig – December 2011
    Excerpt: The original species had a greater genetic potential to adapt to all possible environments. In the course of time this broad capacity for adaptation has been steadily reduced in the respective habitats by the accumulation of slightly deleterious alleles (as well as total losses of genetic functions redundant for a habitat), with the exception, of course, of that part which was necessary for coping with a species’ particular environment….By mutative reduction of the genetic potential, modifications became “heritable”. — As strange as it may at first sound, however, this has nothing to do with the inheritance of acquired characteristics. For the characteristics were not acquired evolutionarily, but existed from the very beginning due to the greater adaptability. In many species only the genetic functions necessary for coping with the corresponding environment have been preserved from this adaptability potential. The “remainder” has been lost by mutations (accumulation of slightly disadvantageous alleles) — in the formation of secondary species.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53881.html

    Donald Prothero: In evolution, stasis was general, gradualism rare, and that’s the consensus 40 years on – February 2012
    Excerpt: In four of the biggest climatic-vegetational events of the last 50 million years, the mammals and birds show no noticeable change in response to changing climates. No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate. Rather than answers, we have more questions—
    Donald Prothero – American paleontologist, geologist, and author who specializes in mammalian paleontology.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ars-later/

    New Species, Darwin Wrong Again – June 28, 2013
    Excerpt: By examining the fossil records of 19 Cenozoic terrestrial mammal clades, Quental and Marshall discovered extinction rates exceeding the formation rates of new species. Fossil record evidence demonstrates that the rate of extinction far exceeds the formation of new species.
    ,,, The investigators found no evidence for the emergence of any new species.
    These fossil record findings undermine Darwin’s theory that changing environments are a driving force of evolution:
    “under changing conditions of life, there is no logical impossibility in the acquirement of any conceivable degree of perfection through natural selection.”
    Rather than acquiring “any degree of perfection” in the wake of environmental changes, the effect increased the rate of extinction, not speciation.
    ,,,When species are challenged by changing environments, rather than adapting, the pendulum swings in favor of destruction?extinction rather than “the acquirement of any conceivable degree of perfection.” Darwin’s natural selection pendulum favors extinction, not the formation of new species.
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....ong-again/

    Bacteria ‘invest’ wisely to survive uncertain times, scientists report – December 1, 2009
    Excerpt: “When conditions are highly variable, some individual bacteria are equipped to thrive in the highs or lows, while others tank,” he said. “It’s like the stock market. If you invest all your money in just one stock, and conditions change to lessen or completely eliminate its value, you won’t survive financially. Similarly, in the case of these bacteria, if all the cells were adapted to only a small, rigid set of environmental factors, the population would be wiped out if conditions unexpectedly changed.
    “There seems to be an optimization going on in these organisms,” he added.,,,
    Essentially, variability of bacterial cells appears to match the variability in the environment, thereby increasing the chances of bacterial survival, he said.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....112102.htm

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    semi related per Box:

    Stephen Talbott puts it like this:
    S.L.Talbott: Scientists can damage tissues in endlessly creative ways that the organism has never confronted in its evolutionary history. Yet, so far as its resources allow, it mobilizes those resources, sets them in motion, and does what it has never done before, all in the interest of restoring a dynamic form and a functioning that the individual molecules and cells certainly cannot be said to “understand” or “have in view”.
    We can frame the problem of identity and context with this question: Where do we find the context and activity that, in whatever sense we choose to use the phrase, does “have in view” this restorative aim? Not an easy question. Yet the achievement is repeatedly carried through; an ever-adaptive intelligence comes into play somehow, and all those molecules and cells are quite capable of participating in and being caught up in the play.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....rgery_war1
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....-we_15.htm

  5. 5
    Eric Anderson says:

    “. . . maybe it was environmental change itself – not a particular environment – that drove human evolution.”

    Sure. Yeah.

    The environment “drove human evolution.” Hmmmm . . .

    Is he saying that the environment prompted humans to use their skill, engineering capabilities, and intelligence to adapt to the environment?

    Or is he claiming that the environment caused some non-human creature to evolve into a human?

    The former is almost self evident. The latter is nothing more than an unsupportable, laughable, made up story.

  6. 6
    Box says:

    In my understanding of the evolutionary narrative the environment has created precisely nothing. It’s random mutations that “create” all the fancy stuff in nature and the environment that fails in killing all of it — at least for now.
    Why do they keep coming up with stories that suggest otherwise?

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