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Size and Extinction (fwd)

Michael D. Miller wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Feb 1997, Larry wrote:
> > All species eventually
> > become extinct, and that extinction does not necessarily equate with
> > failure.
> I'm not so sure that extinction is not a failure.  It seems, no matter 
> how catastrophic the event might be, that extinction is the inability to 
> ADAPT to the changing situations.  I think that insects give us a very 
> good look at what is successful and what is not.  Granted, though, some 
> extinct species were very successful, but it was their failure to adapt 
> that made them the target for extinction, whether they were being forced 
> to adapt quickly or within a long period of time.
        Extinction IS failure.  Your definition is exactly on the mark.  
Everything evolves while it lives, adapting to changes in the surrounding 
environment (or just hanging out if it is a really good design).  If it 
can't adapt it dies.  If it can it lives.  The idea that everything dies 
is different in a phylogenetic sense than in an ontogenetic one.  If a 
species dies, it means something went wrong, not that it reached the end 
point in a long and successful campaign.

Josh Smith
Department of Geology
University of Pennsylvania
356 Hayden Hall
240 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104-6316
(215) 898-5630