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Natural Selection vs. Opportunity in Macroevolutionary Patterning of the Fossil Record

I'm going to talk about one or two peer reviewed papers, but in doing so, I'm going to have to say a few words ... and this will not be pretty ... about a certain science writer's report at the BBC.

In an article titled "Space is the final frontier for evolution, study claims" BBC "science writer" Howard Falcon-Lang uses the old, tired, and quite frankly, stupendously unethical tack of making a claim that Darwin has been overthrown by new research. If someone actually overthrows Darwin, then so be it. But this is not what has happened. Falcon-Lang, or perhaps his BBC handlers, have used the cheap trick to sell their wares, and this is not appreciated.

If Howard Falcon-Lang did not a) claim to be a science reporter and b) have a dumb-ass hyphenated name, I'd be nice in my critique of his recent writeup. But no. He left me no choice. I will have to take it apart red in tooth and claw.

Charles Darwin may have been wrong when he argued that competition was the major driving force of evolution.

OK, this is a little premature for me to say here, but as you read on you'll see that my assertion is justified: Mr. Falcon-Lang is not really in a position to make any kind of claim regarding the wrongness or rightness of a genius of the level of Dr. Darwin.

He imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived.

No. That is the world that so many hack science writers, creationists, and various Darwin detractors imagine. Darwin wrote endlessly about differential survival, differential reproduction, mate selection, and all the myriad forces that determine selection (and randomness). He did not imagine the thing Mr. Falcon-Lang imagines him to have imagined.

But new research identifies the availability of "living space", rather than competition, as being of key importance for evolution.

Never start a sentence, let alone a paragraph, with the word "but" especially when the rest of the essay is something one has essentially pulled out of one's "butt."
... continue reading



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