Monthly Archives: May 2011

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

An early carnivore that was a close relative of Miacis uintensis, Vulpavus. (Credit: Marlene Donnelly and The Field Museum)

An early carnivore that was a close relative of Miacis uintensis, Vulpavus. (Credit: Marlene Donnelly and The Field Museum)

Remember on the Planet of the Apes when the monkeys had evolved into Humanoid like creatures, well, don’t put your bets on that happening in reality. It’s just not the way evolution works.

I think that I’m discovering that each general species group, such as carnivores for example, has a period in its early history when it’s innovative and has the ability to evolve. Evolution is more volatile early on. But once it’s an old timer, say a wolf, it’s not going to change much from there. An old dog really can’t learn new tricks. However, the early carnivore certainly could. It was a young dog and it had the right stuff to turn into bears, raccoons, hyenas and cats too. And it did.

Take another example: the sea otter. Could it ever become like a baleen whale, the early ungulate ancestor of our water spouting cetaceans? I don’t think so. There were times in which evolution was rampant throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. The morphologies of those species were simple and general. The behaviors were probably also characterized by general habits rather than highly refined. But as species groups began filling the smaller niches, their traits became more and more specialized and as a result the morphologies became distinct and stable.

It seems that the fossil evidence shows that once a species hits it’s archetype, it doesn’t change all that much afterward. If true, this is significant. It demonstrates that, yes, evolution is unidirectional. And no, survival is not the underlying method for evolution. Species evolve because they are tending toward their archetype.

I’m not a paleontologist, but this theory could be tested by looking at the fossil record and graphing various species groups and how much they changed over time. I expect that you’d find that all species groups’ morphologies change significantly early on and less significantly as time progresses.

What does this say about mankind and our species? It says that bonobos can’t become human. It also says that mankind has an archetype into which it is evolving (or has evolved). And my bet is that it is not Homo technicus. Instead, we tend toward our Archetype: Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1: 1-5

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