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Random results vs low probability results



   I agree with Joseph Christopher Beamon in that too many events labeled as
random are really what I would call low probability results(LPR). Events
such as speciation and extinction are governed very little by random events
and much more by LPR.
   In programming, we work with psedo-random numbers and call them random
with the understanding that they are not truly random.Most are based on the
computers internal clock to generate an array of "seed" numbers to start
from. The computer clock is considered "accurate" in increments of 1/10 of a
second. There is bias though in determining a starting point for generating
the random number array. It can be improved(made more random) by adding
sub-routines, but it will not be random in a mathematical sense.
   On recent list threads alone, events such as the poison gas cloud may be
viewed as
random, but the random element is minuscule compared to the low probability
results(LPR). The particular valley in which the gas occurred and caused an
extinction of one species may not have caused extinction in other species
with better adaptive abilities. If this poison gas came from a fissure
underground, maybe a white-tail deer would have felt/heard the vibrations
with the hollow cavity in their feet or detected the odor before the
concentration reached toxic levels because of their acute sense of smell.
The event of released gas is not less random, it is responded to
differently. The LPR of detecting
and reacting to the gas may be found in only one species, but
extinction/survival is determined by species  and not by the release of gas.
    Suppose the gas release was so sudden that the only species equipped to
detect it was unable to react quick enough. The gas release is still not a
random extinction event
because the white-tail deer could have built machines that extended
detection beyond their admirable physical abilities, but did not. Similarly,
if humans were presented with the same approaching bollide as occurred 65
million years ago and with thrusters were able to divert it, then it wasn't
a random extinction event. Humans simply had better adaptations to a serious
species challenge. The collision path of the bollide may have been random,
within the context of the effects of earth life affecting the path, but the
collision and resulting extinctions are not random.
   To end, I would like to know if any studies have been done in post
extinction event fossils to indicate morphological trends across all
vertebrates. Such as adaptations for burrowing or digging which could aid in
surviving extinctions in mammals, reptiles, amphibians. Thanks, now back to
lurking and programming and sports analysis.
                                                            Tim Bollier


Troodon1@worldnet.att.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph Christopher Beamon <c992@scatcat.fhsu.edu>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Sunday, January 24, 1999 11:54 AM
Subject: randomness...


>I don't know if this will help anyone, but I have always viewed
>evolution, and most biological processes, as an overlying order coming
>from an underlying chaos.  The order in evolution can be seen in the
>'trends' we are all discussing here, such as the trend within many
>lineages to get larger with time.  These trends could be the result of
>life always having to evolve to some environmental constants (plants
>always need light, preds always have to catch some other animal, little
>things like that), though of course I've no real proof.  The underlying
>chaos is the mutations and mating combinations formed in each
>generation, as well as random kill-offs (the afore-mentioned poison gas
>clouds) and random survivals (those critters in the afore-mentioned
>valley).
>
>Just thought I'd share my own two pennies fer once, instead of just
>lurking.
>