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From Science Magazine's Science News This Week



EVOLUTION:When Fittest Survive, Do Other Animals Matter? (p. 414)
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Richard A. Kerr

In recent years, some paleontologists have questioned whether Darwinian
competition among animals has all that much to do with who wins and who
loses in the evolutionary wars and whether externalities, such as the
meteorite that did in the dinosaurs, might be more important. Now, three
paleontologists report in the latest issue of Paleobiology that at least in
the case of the bryozoa, competition does appear to have mattered. To tease
out the role of competition in the rise and fall of two clades of
bryozoans, the researchers used computer models to predict, in hindsight,
how the two clades would fare assuming competition mattered; the results of
their model closely mimicked the fossil record.

Full story at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/288/5465/414
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Two observations:
(1)  If the 'metorite' conclusion as sole cause is questionable, what happens to analysis built on the assumption that it's true?
(2)  If you know how a competition comes out, how do you know when you've identified all the factors in an objective manner?
Assumptions matter.
Also, this connects to past discussions about the role of chance in evolution.