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Re: Evolution programs (was: Reevolving bones)



Maia wrote:
>Good news, you can leave grad school!
        I'm not packing my bags yet... :)

>Evolution Programs (EPs) are widely used
        Yes, one of our Geophysicists has mentioned these programs

>GAs in their simplest form act on binary digit  [...]
>It's nice to see that evolution based 
>on selection and random mutation really works[...]
        Here's my problem. What you have described sounds like a process
that models evolution on a simplistic level, not a model of the evolution of
terrestrial vertebrates complex enough to test cladistic methodology. Am I
off base here?
        To do what George wants seems to me to require modeling the entire
process of molecular evolution, expression of genotype in the phenotype
(including developmental effects), the expression of mutation in the
phenotype, the expression (or lack thereof) of anatomical features in the
skeletal structure, a full ecosystem with environmental constraints and
adaptive zones, lots of different selection pressures and their sources, and
about fifty other catchy buzz phrases. This seems to be what you would have
to model (in excruciating detail) to ever hope to come anywhere near
modeling evolution of the evolution of the skeletal structure of dinosaurs
[cheap mention of the topic of this list for form's sake] with enough
certainty to test cladistic methodology.
        These are the conditions under which reversals happen, and any
simplifying assumptions you make may give you misleading results. Some (I
guess, at a certain level, all) of the above processes are not currently
understood, and one has to wonder if we understand them enough to get
meaningful results. Am I off on the wrong track here?
        It seems to me that we would have to start evolution all over again
in order to truly test cladistics. In absence of this, we ought fall back on
the principles of science, specifically parsimony.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Jonathan R. Wagner, Dept. of Geosciences, TTU, Lubbock TX 79409
      "The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity." - Unknown