Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Explanations of vertebrate diversity


In 1996, palaeontologist Mike Benton published a fascinating analysis of tetrapod evolutionary data and concluded: “Competitive replacement has probably played a minor role in the history of tetrapods. In an assessment of the origins of 840 families of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, fewer than 26%, and probably fewer than 13%, were identified as candidate competitive replacements (CCR’s).” The alternative mechanism proposed was adaptation into new habitats. This finding was presented in the paper as bringing a different emphasis to our understanding of speciation than was brought by Darwin:

“A classic view in evolution has been that many successful radiations of plant and animal groups in the Past have been mediated by competitive interactions. Newly successful groups are said to have outcompeted and displaced the previously established organisms, and hence to have demonstrated some progressive or advantageous feature. [. . .] The pattern of radiation of tetrapods, and indeed of many other groups, suggests that it is unlikely that competitive replacement was paramount.”

For any normal person reading this, the implication is clear: Darwin’s emphasis on selection of hereditable variations is not the key to understanding tetrapod diversification. Recently-published research has strengthened the analysis above, but not all are receptive to the implications. For more, go here.

There is hardly any theoretical element of Darwin's "theory"---as it is presented in "Origins"---that has not be shown to be wrong. But, this is clearly the biggest mistake he made; and it COMPLETELY undermines his views. Why do I say this? Because this notion of 'species competition' lies at the very heart of Darwinism. It was only upon receipt of a letter sent to him by Alfred Wallace, then in Malaysia, that Darwin abruptly publicly presented his views before the Linnean Society, before going on to write and publish "Origins" (see here), a book that was largely already written years before. Well, what triggered this reaction? Why was Darwin so ready, now, to face any and all criticism? IOW, what was in Wallace's letter that so changed Darwin's confidence in the correctness of his theory? Well, the answer is the "principle of divergence". (here) This is the idea that the original species (parent species) can be eventually eliminated by a subsequent descendent that had become sufficiently variegated as to be "fitter" in the now changed (from the original) ecosystem. This was needed in order to explain why "intermediate" forms are not present (they had been eliminated somewhere along the line. And, of course, these weren't found in fossil record either because the fossil record was incomplete [per Darwin's theory]). But this implies intense competition amongst species. And this is why evolutionists/Darwinists simply presumed that species competition is the source of all selection---an idea that Sahney's and Fenton's work shows is not the case. Bottom line: there's nothing left to Darwin's theory. There's only DARWINISTS! PaV

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