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While still standing by the words "basal" and "derived" as optimal in many
I don't feel the need to abandon the term "advanced" when discussing development
of useful traits along a perceived lineage, as in "the advanced avetheropod
condition," although the term "derived" will arguably work just as well in this
On another note, I feel that the "staggering drunk" analogy is of limited
utility, carrying plenty of baggage (so to speak), and suggesting an inordinate
level of randomness, and thus providing fodder for those who oppose evolutionary
At a recent short course at UC Berkeley ("Tracking the Course of Evolution,"
March 12, 2000), Kevin Padian, president of the National Center for Science
Education (<www.natcenscied.org>), stressed that evolution is not purely random.
The randomness is working within the framework of natural selection, whereby
individuals are better fit to survive, and these are the ones that pass on their
genes (and traits) to succeeding generations. There is a general direction to
the life on earth which has resulted from natural selection, and that is a trend
toward change over time, which in turn produces greater diversity of life.
(Remember, this is a generalization, subject to modification under the meddling
influence of mass extinction events and humans, among other things). Padian
further points out that life is not without purpose, for one overriding aim of
all organisms is to reproduce, passing on one's genes.
THE END :^)
-- Ralph W. Miller III firstname.lastname@example.org
"Wink, wink. Nod, nod. Say no more."