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Evolution/Regarding human evolution

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Question
Hi,

Humans have capability to speak, laugh, think, build tall buildings, apply intelligence, do space exploration etc.. If evolution is fact and was caused by probability, logic demands that there should be number of species similar to humans who could do at least half of what humans do but we don't find any. Could you please explain why.

Regards.

Answer
Dear Mohd,

One of the common misconceptions about evolution is that it is random.  Although there are some random components to the evolutionary process (mutation, genetic drift), a very important driving force is natural selection.  The combination of random and non-random processes work together to create the diversity we see today.

The random component, mutation, is highly unpredictable.  Any mutation may be

adaptive (increases survival/reproduction chancdes of the individual expressing it),
maladaptive (decreases survival/reproduction chancdes of the individual expressing it),
or neutral (does not affect survival/reproduction chancdes of the individual expressing it).

Thus, a mutation's effects may not be random, once it is expressed in a population.  If it is adaptive, it should spread through the population, and if it is maladaptive, its frequency should decrease over generations.

As to why only humans have developed into such an "active" species...who can say?  One might as easily ask why there are only three species of elephants, doing what elephants do.  It is not inherently logical to predict that there should be more "humanlike" species, especially in light of the fact that the current dominant hominid on the planet (Homo sapiens) may well have had a role in driving extinct at least one other hominid that was likely as intelligent as we are (Homo neanderthalensis).  Competition may be one factor to consider here:  human tribes tend to fight with each other, and as intelligent as we are, if someone else is occupying our ecological niche, we tend to win that fight.

This isn't a complete answer, as such would take an entire book.  But I hope it provides a little food for thought.

Dana  

Evolution

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Dana Krempels

Expertise

I can answer questions about evolutionary mechanisms and theory, including genetic drift, mutation, natural selection, etc. I also can clear up misconceptions about evolution as it's sometimes talked about by those not well-versed in the subject (e.g., some politicians and many religious fundamentalists).

Experience

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, and presently teach Evolution and Biodiversity, Genetics, Botany, and Zoology at the University of Miami.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society

Publications
Exotic DVM Magazine (veterinary journal)

Education/Credentials
B.S. in Biology B.A. in English Ph.D. in Biology

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