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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2 Comments

Filed under Christianity, evolution

2 responses to “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

  1. Michael Zelenka

    Excu-use Me!
    No, “The Boys…” are not back in town, but I am. I just read the posting on May 5 by David. Very impressive, until I read , “It seems that the fossil evidence shows that once a species hits it’s archetype, it doesn’t change all that much afterward. … Species evolve because they are tending toward their archetype.”
    What on earth! It doesn’t make sense that species tend toward an archetype. Species’ biology, morphology, and behavior by necessity must be consequent to the biological and environmental contingencies affecting them (I think that’s pure Darwin, but I could be wrong). The idea of an “archetype” toward which they tend does not appear to be a viable concept scientifically. Archetype seems to me to imply something preexisting, something like Plato’s pure forms. I don’t know, but suspect that Jung may have been the popularizer of the term. From the best that I can recall, for Jung, an archetype was a general category based upon common features. Were archetypes for him preexisting categories? I’d have to research that. But archetypes in biology? Interesting idea – and may be something to it as there may be common biological and environmental contingencies in different settings in time and geographical location – an idea, supported, of course, by strikingly similar morphologies arising independently;
    So you say, where have I been? I’ve been out of commission for a while due to some rather horrendous surgery – the results are not fully in yet, and maybe never will be. But I am fairly functional – and based upon the paragraph above, it looks like I might be ready for a fight. Not really a fight, of course, just a little play on ideas that make sense to some, but that don’t make sense to others!

  2. I tend to disagree. But that’s the basis to my fundamental disagreement with modern understanding of science. It’s the basis to most of my reflections about science.
    The earth took the shape of a sphere. The sphere is an archetypal morphology. The earth didn’t take the morphology of a torus or a square or a pyramid. It took the shape of a sphere. The same goes for all the species and all the chemicals and all the atoms and so forth. That’s just the way it works. Modern science doesn’t want to look at it that way because it damages the ego.

    Then again, I could be wrong!

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