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Natural Selection - The Whole Story ?



At 21:44 07/08/98 EDT, Caleb Lewis wrote:

> My question is: How does evolution seem to know what to evolve or make 
> one species evolve into next? 

and in reply Dinogeorge wrote:

>By natural selection.

Others wrote brief explanations of natural selection being all about
countless random mutations of offspring, the survival of the fittest etc
which I'm sure Caleb was already well aware of. But Caleb is right to have
doubts. Although the process of natural selection can be demonstrated, it
cannot be proved that it is the ONLY process by which evolution occurs.
Proponents of natural selection have great difficulty in explaining the
co-evolution of organisms within an eco-system. For example, how can
flowers that are only pollenated by bats that feed exclusively on their
nectar be explained ?  How is mimicry explained - yes we know that a fly
that looks like a bee is less likely to be eaten therefore it is "fit" but
how does it ever get to a "fit" state when its unbee-like parents were eaten ?

What natural selection seems to lack is feedback or more specifically the
Gaian concept of "communication" between organisms and the eco-system they
belong to. To Gaians evolution need not be random or gradual although there
is still no particular direction to it. Gaians would not be surprised (see
David Lessin's mail) that landlocked sunfish acquire a pike-like morphology
after a few generations, that other fish change sex when necessary, that
various species of amphibians retain partially juvenile morphology in some
areas and develop to normal adults in others. All are cases of the
organisms responding to cues from their eco-system - the eco-system somehow
responsible for switching specific genes off or on. 

The eco-system also includes other organisms. A more radical view is that
it is possible that organisms orchestrate each others evolution. This may
be to produce a symbiosis in which both (or all participating)organisms
benefit, a parasitic relationship, or a food-chain.