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Steve_A's avatar

Darwin's Theory of Evolution and humans(details)?

Asked by Steve_A (5120points) February 16th, 2010

I have been thinking that do you believe evolution has taken a “pit stop” on humans?

I mean technically we should keep evolving to become better faster,stronger,smarter right? I keep imaging what we may be like in say 100 years or even 1,000. I imagine so mixed and versatile that the likes of race and background become very…mixed or blurred together,but would be better?

That is the basic ideal of it I believe…..But it seems maybe we are on the top of the food chain? but really it seems we have sacrificed physical aspects of nature for more intelligence?

Do you think evolution finally began to experiment or understand that if you have the knowledge or can manipulate the world that you can do far more or be superior to anything?

Also are humans on the top of the food chain? How do we appropriately decide where humans fit into it, as we seem to able to kill anything but not naturally per se with our own abilities(I hope I made sense)

Thank you for any insight on these things.

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56 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Devolving is still a process of evolving.

Steve_A's avatar

@ChazMaz I was under the impression it only goes one way so to speak, as in to improve under the environment/circumstances?

So you are saying we are devolving from physical characteristics to other aspects?

Cruiser's avatar

What you speak of is not evolution but attempting to mess with it by manipulating the DNA structure to “create” what nature has not seen fit to provide us with…yet. Evolution is a slow process of trial and error based on the pressures of nature, bacteria, virus and predators.

Rarebear's avatar

Evolution doesn’t work that way. We don’t evolve to be faster or smarter or whatever. Species evolve in response to environmental change. If the species can adapt, they live. If they can’t adapt they die. Speciation occurs once pressure from natural selection causes a species to diverge from another so they can’t mate.

Steve_A's avatar

So as humans we will stay this way forever basically?

Since we really have no reason to change.

marinelife's avatar

Why do you think that we can’t kill things with out own abilities if it is our abilities and our pooling of our strengths that have resulted in that power to kill?

dpworkin's avatar

Evolution is concerned with one issue, and one issue only: progeny. If an adaptation makes you more likely to reproduce it will propagate. If not, not. It is a blind process, it is non hierarchical, man is at the top of nothing. Just another one of thousands and thousands of branches, hasn’t been around very long, is just as likely to be a dead end as anything else.

Snarp's avatar

Generally speaking, evolution of humans just takes too long for us to see it.

That said, I would argue that our technological advancement has thrown a monkey wrench into the evolution of our species. We will still evolve, but we have changed the pressures that will affect our evolution. It takes thousands of years to adapt to new stresses through evolution, but we can invent technology to deal with those stresses within an individual lifespan. That just means that our evolution will deal with different things, like enabling us to type better. Except that we’ll probably alter that interface long before we can evolve an adaptation for typing.

Steve_A's avatar

@marinelife I was thinking you would be dead if you took on a lion with out anything, if we were to live naturally with just what were born or evolution gave us, with as a lion is.

As humans have to invent and use things in order to be able kill certain things but almost all other animals use what they have been given already.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We are evolving.

Steve_A's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Hm well if we are than in some ways we should not be or maybe not very much, as humans we have taken many steps to keep our conditions and environment acceptable for our living.

If we are born into that, evolution would say theres no need for change, the environment is fine no need to adapt.

@Rarebear “Species evolve in response to environmental change”

Snarp's avatar

@Steve_A To be fair, most animals would be dead if they took on a lion. They’ve all evolved different strategies for defense (Elephants are huge. Gazelles are fast, various sorts of primates climb trees. Humans are smart) and for finding food (chimpanzees use tools, cheetahs are fast, humans are persistence hunters and smart). Intelligence, tool use, and the ensuing technology aren’t something separate from evolution, they are our own evolutionary developments to deal with the stresses we encountered. It just happens that evolving enormous intelligence made us one of the most successful mammals on the planet. We’re no better, worse, or less natural than mammals that haven’t fared so well like most big cats, nor than mammals that have fared exceptionally well (like rats), nor than animals that thrive much better than mammals, like insects, bacteria, and viruses.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Steve_A we are evolving in our interaction with technology, in our interaction with nanotechnology, in our interaction with genetic manipulation. In a couple of decades, the changes will be even more stark. Evolution takes many many years – all we can see is micro evolution – take, for example, continuous and ever increasing resistance to antibiotics – it’s scary (okay so this has more to do with viral evolution but we’re involved in that we consume so many antibiotics through our food and in general)

Snarp's avatar

@Steve_A There will always be stresses in the environment to adapt to, our technology has just changed the nature of those stresses, and for want of a better word, made them less predictable.

Steve_A's avatar

@Snarp So in a sense it goes back to the ideal all things are relative?

Snarp's avatar

Well, all things are relative, but to which of my arguments are you referring?

CMaz's avatar

I take a glass and I throw it on the ground. It smashes, that is a forward process. Even though that glass is less of what it originally was. Evolution.

Steve_A's avatar

@Snarp I guess I was thinking that you can’t really compared one to the other but rather the situation its in as the examples you used with the elephants,gazelles,rats and all.

But its only relative to each case?

Steve_A's avatar

@ChazMaz I don’t get it…I will admit I am the not brightest bulb of the bunch can you explain more?

CMaz's avatar

Evolution always goes forward. You can never go backward.
No matter what the outcome might be.

And we are and will continue to evolve. Until the sun explodes.

Really that is just another part of the evolutionary process. We will become space dust.

Rarebear's avatar

@Steve_A “So as humans we will stay this way forever basically? Since we really have no reason to change.”

As long as there is no environmental pressure to speciate, then there will be no further speciation.

Steve_A's avatar

@ChazMaz Ah ok, I see what you are saying thank you.

Steve_A's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir “Evolution takes many many years – all we can see is micro evolution – take, for example, continuous and ever increasing resistance to antibiotics – it’s scary.”

Hm,interesting good point.

TehRoflMobile's avatar

I think that as humans evolve, we will lose more and more of our physical abilities and more and more mental abilities. The next step may be telepathy, but that will take thousands of years.

drhat77's avatar

Humans of 30,000 years ago were functionally and genetically equivalent to us. That is, if you took a baby from 30,000 years ago, raised it up as your own, people might scratch their head, think you adopted from somewhere, but leave it at that. That kid would probably still be able to ace the SAT’s as easily as other from this time period, and may end up being my boss someday.

Frozen Caveman Lawyer anybody?

(edit: wikipedia says 250,000 years! DAMN!)

The point is evolution is slower than glaciers.

Steve_A's avatar

Crap I have to go for a little…I will be back to pester you all with more questions haha :)

Snarp's avatar

@Steve_A Um, I’m not sure. Basically, I’m just saying that all animals have evolved different methods, and the intelligence we have evolved giving us our technology isn’t separate from evolution, it is what evolution “gave” us.

But to look at it another way, as I said, evolution in humans is too slow for us to see, so we really are just as evolutionarily fit to handle a lion as our primitive ancestors were. We’re afraid of the dark, we’re afraid of strange noises, we can run a bit, we can climb a bit, and we can fit into relatively small caves. Given a little time in the grasslands of Africa, and we would quickly put our fear to work telling us to run when we heard odd noises, not to stay out in the dark, to hide in caves, and to climb trees. Our height would enable us to see long distances. All these things would help us to avoid ever having a one on one encounter with a lion.

But I’ve gone afield from where I meant to go: essentially what is different between us and our primitive (but still genetically modern human) ancestors is not an evolutionary change, but is rather personal fitness, which is an entirely different thing. One generation’s children, lacking technology in Africa, would be faster, stronger, better distance runners than most of us and would fare better against lions. It has nothing to do with evolution. They would also likely invent spears, bows and arrows, etc.

Snarp's avatar

OK, I don’t know why I’m going on and on, but….

Essentially the reason human evolution is slow is that evolution requires many generations. Many smaller animals have much shorter life cycles than humans, so evolution can be seen in bacteria, fruit flies, even birds, but it cannot be seen in humans because we’ve only known of evolution in the time of about 10 human generations. Not nearly enough. We only have written records of about 250 generations. Perhaps our records will hold up long enough to show some future humans what we were like and how we evolved, but essentially it is impossible for any species to witness it’s own evolution first hand. That’s what’s relative. (And it doesn’t mean that we can’t reasonably infer our evolutionary history from fossil records, so please don’t anyone get started on that).

syz's avatar

I think that our own development of technology has essentially removed us from the influences of evolution. Whether I consider this a good thing or a bad thing is a whole ‘nother can of worms…...

CMaz's avatar

Everything influences our evolution.

marinelife's avatar

@Steve_A When we use our brains, we are using what we were given.

Snarp's avatar

@marinelife Thank you for making my point so much more succinctly.

Nullo's avatar

I just say that evolution as it’s presented in schools is a load of hooey.

dpworkin's avatar

All schools? Elementary schools? Universities?

Steve_A's avatar

How did evolution decide that our environment calls for more intelligence from us?

as @dpworkin said its a matter of survival and reproducing do you think that evolution has planned far enough ahead so we will possibly survive?

Val123's avatar

@Nullo O really? And how do you know this?

Val123's avatar

@Steve_A I think the intelligence factor, and the ability to speak were probable nothing more than favorable genetic quirks at one time. They served us so well, though, that the original carriers of those quirks were more successful at reproducing.

Rarebear's avatar

@Steve_A @Val123 Good article in this months Scientific American on how the lack of fur may have set the stage for larger brains. It’s the cover story—you can’t read the whole article online without paying, but you’ll get the gist here.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-naked-truth-why-humans-have-no-fur

Val123's avatar

Thanks @Rarebear….but there wasn’t enough there for me to understand why being hairless would be an advantage for migration. If anything, it seems the opposite would be true, especially as we moved into cooler climes…..

Rarebear's avatar

@Val123 I admit I only browsed through the article in the airport yesterday. I don’t know the details. It just seemed relevent to the conversation so I figured if someone had enough interest they’d check it out.

Val123's avatar

Well, I did! I just don’t want to pay for it. :)

Steve_A's avatar

@Rarebear I will look into it, thanks.

Nullo's avatar

@Val123
I approach the matter from a different angle, from the perspective that we were placed here and then adapted to our environment, instead of having come up from goo-puddles (or is it ocean-floor vents now? I haven’t been keeping track).
Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, this put me at odds with more than one instructor.

Val123's avatar

@Nullo Ah. It is mind bending, isn’t it.

mattbrowne's avatar

I recommend this book

http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Stephen-Baxter/dp/0345457838

Baxter describes how humankind splits up into different species in the future and why this is a likely scenario.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Steve_A – Yes, it is. Sorry I missed the slash at the end of the URL.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne
...All for want of a horseshoe nail.

Rarebear's avatar

@mattbrowne I also recommend a book Why Evolution is True

I just picked it up a few days ago in an airport and it’s very clear and well written.

Val123's avatar

@Rarebear Send it to me when you’re done. I don’t got no money.

Rarebear's avatar

@Val123 Okay, email me your address and I’ll mail it to you when I’m done.

Val123's avatar

Srsly??

Val123's avatar

You should have my address! Remember when you sent me that stuff to Psychedelia Wands? And the post man thought I was nuts? :) I’ll send it again.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Rarebear – Thanks for the reading tip!

Val123's avatar

Ah. My two favorite people for sending me books, right in a row. :)

serena933's avatar

Humans as a species may not change much over time, because the things that would change our environment-so we would need to evolve, will hopefully happen so slowly that we will have ways of combating it (depending on how far in the future it is an issue). Maybe if it is very far in the future we will just be able to pick up and populate a new planet. We as a species would not need to evolve differently for something like that, it just takes time. There are a lot of species that have not really changed at all in the last couple hundred million years (or more) on this planet, and are perfectly fine the way they are-they do not need to evolve. However, if there is another mass-extinction before that time that humans somehow do not survive…like 65 million years ago when 80% of all life on earth was killed and many new species evolved…or when it happened 250 million years ago and 90% of life on earth was killed and new adapted species evolved….then who knows what new life species will evolve over the next millions of years…

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