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What is the speed of evolution?

 What is the speed of evolution? A new species of bird appears, and I understand that that happens occasionally. What was the mutation in the new “species” (is that the right word?) that was favored by the environment eventuating in the newly discovered bird? Can that “feature” be isolated somehow? Can the length of time that produced the new bird be calculated? Or is there a spontaneous appearance?

John F. Deethardt II


2 Responses

  1. Tricky. The honest answer is “we don’t know.”

    It’s a lot of speculation and inference.

    However, Darwinian mechanics suggests that it moves “in leaps” (as in the “evolutionary leap”).

    Some have suggested that an environmental factor must be well established before a species begins adapting to it. Others subscribe to the “necessity is the mother of all invention” philosophy and that sudden environmental factors can trigger latent mutations “laying in wait” in order to facilitate spontaneous (or near spontaneous) mutation.

    Purist Evolutionary thought would probably state something more like “critters are mutating all the time, and the ones that hit the right advantage are the ones that stick around.”

  2. Could the speed be given in “generations”? The generation of drosphilia flys is not a long as the generation of humans (30 yrs?) If humans are now in a stage of evolving some aspect of the physique, how is it known that that physical form is changing , what it will become, how long it will take to achieve an end stage, and what factors affect the transformation? I could anticipate other questions.

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