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Re: Evolution

T.A. Curtis writes;

>You have this backwards.  Evolution dictates that function follows form,
>and not the other way around.  Form following function is the Lamarckian,
>not the Darwinian view.

Actually, both types of form/function interrelation may have their places in 
evolution.  Unusual physical adaptations (like wings or flippers) will start 
simply through mutations or just plain genetic variation.  Natural selection 
will refine these simple, and often subtle, changes into fully functional 
features (nice illiteration, huh?), that are spread throughout the breeding 
population; this is the definition of speciation.  In this case, simple changes 
result in a profound lifestyle change: form following function.

Now, observe the trend at a transitional form, where the species has an even 
mixture of primitive and derived characteristics.  Natural selection will 
continue to press the species toward the new lifestyle, and those animals that 
have traits that best fit the new lifestyle will survive to breed the next 
generation.  In this case, refining the new lifestyle results in continued 
physical adaptation: function following form.

Those with better experience with evolutionary theory will be able to check 
where I have gone off, but I suspect I have described the process adequately.

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new 
discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's 
funny ..." 
-- Isaac Asimov