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>>I would say that evolution >always< takes the easiest course, which is
determined by the raw material available. This is because the chance of
finding the easiest course is much greater than that of finding a harder
course. That, indeed, is the definition of "easiest course."<<
I would say that trying to designate between "easy" are "hard" courses
will not get you anywhere. Random mutation and selection are based upon
so many different variables that I don't think we can ever determine the
path of least resistance for change in an organism.
Oh, we can construct plausible stories based upon what we know of
paleontology, anatomy, and genetics. We can say, in retrospect, that
humans diverged from the rest of the great apes when a genetic switch
flicked on (or off, depending on your view-point) and allowed us to keep
juvenile features to adulthood. But that isn't prediction, it's
It might be profitable to say that evolution does not always follow the
course we would have predicted. But then we knew that already.