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OfflineTraveller
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Registered: 04/13/01
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Re: evolution [Re: MokshaMan]
    #409676 - 10/01/01 12:19 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

evolution never stops, don't think that "evolution" means developing into a stronger or somehow "better" species/organism or whatever.

in my 1st year archaeology course a while back we did the standard study of the primate-hominid fossil record so far. from the oldest and most ape-like fossils ever found to the skull of the modern human. all sorts in between, many of which are thought not to be direct ancestors of our species. one interesting thing was that several ancient "human" skulls, from i forget how many thousand years ago, had a brain case that was one third bigger than our skulls today, but the imprint of the brain inside showed it to have been less convoluted.

damnit i caught a cold in the mountains and now i can't think straight...maybe i'll write some more later.



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InvisibleMokshaMan
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Registered: 03/13/01
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Re: evolution [Re: Traveller]
    #409785 - 10/01/01 02:40 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

Just because we're "evolving" societally doesn't mean it's true evolution in the sense that Darwin(defended by Huxley(who created the idea of social Darwinism)) defined it. Although I'll accept that we're diversifying, if that's what we're defining evolution to be(this is not what I believe to be the true definition, but I'll accept it as yours).

I personally have lots of problems with the current concepts of man's evolution based on fosil records. The reason for this is that every 3 or 4 years, there seems to be a total regrouping. My favorite has to be the "earliest" human remains when all that they have is a jaw bone, a pinky bone, a couple of ribs and two leg bones. Our picture of human's rise is incomplete at best in my opinion. I also have to wonder about the giant leaps in brain capacity that are said to have taken place twice, nearly doubling the size of our brain(four times bigger, doubled twice). If you could tell me more, I'd love to listen and hear you out.

Edited by MokshaMan on 10/01/01 01:41 AM.



--------------------
Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
-- George Owell


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Offlinemissulena
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Re: evolution [Re: Traveller]
    #409817 - 10/01/01 03:48 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

Is there any correlation between brain size and intelligence?
because stephen hawkings has actually got a small head.

Edited by missulena on 10/01/01 02:57 AM.



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OfflineTraveller
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Registered: 04/13/01
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Re: evolution [Re: MokshaMan]
    #409819 - 10/01/01 03:51 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

ok I agree, and any anthropologist or archaeologist or person who has actually studied the fossil record will agree that it is incomplete and that it gives us only a very vague outline to create theories from. i don't know anything about giant leaps in brain capacity...

ok i'll just write some stuff as i think of it, some of you will know all of this but it will be new to others.

it seems now that a while back in africa (damn i wish i had my notes, or that i knew of a good website with this stuff so i could give you some approximate dates) there were lots of primates of varying sizes and shapes. in the older skulls (the complete ones anyway) the hole at the base of the skull where the spinal chord enters is at the BACK, which suggests very strongly that they walked on all fours (this hole is at the bottom of our skulls today, so we can look forward when we are standing or sitting upright, otherwise we would be walking around staring up at the sky). in later skulls this hole gets gradually lower, eventually reaching the bottom of the skull behind the jawbone.

from the discovery of a jawbone we can estimate the size and shape of the skull, by examining the teeth we can see what kinds of food they ate or whether they still used their teeth as weapons.

leg bones, when compared with the bones of modern humans, apes and other fossil bones, give us an idea of how tall the creature was, how it moved...etc

the dates we read in books are worked out using one of two methods. the first is based on depth, the kind of rock things are buried in and knowledge of that areas geological past. the second is commonly called carbon dating, where the amount of acertain radioactive isotope of carbon is measured. radioactive things have a "half-life", meaning half will decompose...eg an element with a halflife of 1 year will go from 1 kg to 500g in one year, 250g the next, 125g...etc, until eventually it becomes too small to measure. neither of these methods is very accurate, again i forget the numbers but with one it's + or - several thousand years and with the other it's + or - several tens of thousands of years.

so there were lots of different species of primates evolving in africa millions of years ago, some evolved into chimps, gorillas, humans, etc, but most went extinct. so for hundreds of thousands of years there were many (we have no idea how many) of species of "humans" living in africa, walking around hunting and gathering probably fighting and possibly interbreeding. the best known of these species, and the one that managed to survive the longest (besides our own) was "homo neanderthalus", named after the place where the first bones were found. neanderthals were coexisting with homosapiens for more than twenty thousand years in northern europe, both species had very similar cultures, using the same stone chipped tools (cutters, hammers, scrapers, spears, needles...all mass produced) and making the same paintings on cave walls (hand prints, animals, patterns etc). neanderthals had bigger brains than homosapiens, were shorter and bigger boned with bigger hands and feet, and they had much bigger noses, certainly a much better sense of smell but the shape of their face and necks (apparently) restricted the range of sounds they could produce with their mouths and vocal chords. i saw on discovery channel a while back a thing about the relationship between humans and dogs, some professors saying that homosapiens were living with dogs and neanderthals were not, so over time the homosapiens allowed dogs to do their smelling for them, allowing their noses to shrink and their vocal chords to develope enough for complex language...

anyway neanderthals eventually died out in europe, and everyone was content to argue or philosophise about whether they went completely extinct or interbred with homosapiens, thus adding to our current gene pool? so when the complete skeleton of a child showing roughly fifty-fifty neanderthal/homosapien traits was discovered a while back in europe this debate was rekindled. first people said aha!! they DID interbreed so there ARE neanderthal genes in our pool today. but wait! if a horse gets a donkey pregnant we get a mule, and a mule is a perfectly functional living creature but it is completely infertile and can never procreate. so until we find a second or later generation skeleton (one that was the child of a halfie, or later) we cannot answer this question.

ouch this is really long. post away



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OfflineTraveller
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Re: evolution [Re: MokshaMan]
    #409822 - 10/01/01 04:03 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

ok so we're definately evolving societally right? so that means we're thinking about different things in different ways, which means our brains are developing differently, so even if that was all that was different it seems safe enough to me to say that our brains must be evolving.

besides that, things evolve to adapt to their environments yes? and you say that we are now adapting our environment to us, so therefore we are no longer evolving (perhaps).

so if the australian aboriginals living in harsh outback, deserts with bright bright sunlight, evolved to have dark skin and prominent eyebrows, and the folks living in the mountains of finland evolved to have white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair...we have changed our environment, i'm now sitting on a crap chair staring at a screen almost still with my fingers rapidly moving over a keyboard, the light in here is electrical rather than solar, every day we wear little couches on our feet walking over almost completely flat surfaces while before we climbed trees and mountains barefoot...the food we eat is changing...everything is changing so surely our bodies are changing too? no? isn't this evolution?

i agree that "survival of the fittest" is no longer appropriate. i also believe the the average human of 100,000 years ago would have been a far stronger, far more capable, far more alert and aware creature than the average human in an "advanced" culture today.

am I making any sense?



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Anonymous

Re: evolution [Re: missulena]
    #409894 - 10/01/01 08:12 AM (19 years, 6 months ago)

>>Is there any correlation between brain size and intelligence?
because stephen hawkings has actually got a small head.

When the brain is developed, it has more wrinkles. Generally..the larger the brain, the more developed is that person's spiritual knowledge.



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InvisibleIshmael
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Registered: 10/29/99
Posts: 224
Re: evolution [Re: Traveller]
    #410052 - 10/01/01 01:31 PM (19 years, 6 months ago)

This may or may not still be relevant considering the divergence in the topic, but I'll post it anyway and perhaps add an addendum at the ass-end.

From the perspective that life is an extenuation of energetic dissipation - that life stores energy and dissipates it in order to promote equilibrium within the larger environment (and that the environment itself thusly acts as a unified /thing/ promoting its own equilibrium), then places that have the highest concentrations of /life/ are really repositories of stored energetic potential. I mentioned dissipative structures and how they occur in systems far from equilibrium, producing spontaneous order (a higher version of equilibrium). Well, an ecosystem that is highly abundant in life forms, let us say a forest just to make the example more visual; a forest that has an abundance of life has a lot of potential energy. A forest that is functioning with all of its niches filled with animals, vegetables and minerals is called a ?Peak Ecosystem?. For the terrain, climate and native populations of species, a peak ecosystem is what ?nature? strives for ? the maximum amount of diversity within a minimum of space. Think of the rainforests of Central America, in-keeping with my original example. In the peak ecosystem for the typical Costa Rican rain forest, the soil is very poor but the abundance of life is incredible. Why? Because all of the energy /in/ the system is tied up in the living constituency. The potential energy is constantly moving; growing, dying and being transmuted to a new form. The energy is always moving, always cycling and the ?waste? factor is negligible.

Like all things, when energy is high, change occurs. The higher the energy, the faster the rate of change. Ice melts to water and evaporates to air when enough heat energy is imparted to cause the phase changes. In a peak ecosystem, energy is high. Evolution, the process of diversifying dissipative structures, has an abundance of resources to work with. The creatures and life forms within the forest are more likely to change (a high energy dynamic promotes change). And each change breeds a new wave of changes and so on until the system produces a higher order of equilibrium and thus a higher level of energy containment).

This association of evolution not as a disconnected process, but as being limited or accelerated based upon the energy contained within each ecosystem, has some ramifications. First, it means that a peak ecosystem is much more likely to promote evolution. In our example of a rain forest as a peak ecosystem, we see exactly that ? evolution constantly occurring. Secondly, we see that an ecosystem that is very /far/ from being peak will be less capable of promoting evolution ? a relatively un-energetic ecosystem will tend to evolve in much slower time scales (evolution still occurs, but the process itself is dissipated).

On this secondary note, I think I have some basis to answer the question posed: Are human beings still evolving. Human beings are a product of their environment, not just in the mental-health sense. The cities, towns, and homes we build are ecosystems that have a lot of /static/ energetic potential (the potential energy of a building for example doesn?t get easily transferred, not in the sense that the potential energy in a bunch of plantains, bananas or monkeys can be). There is less for evolution to work with, less energy within the system itself in the form of growth, competition and change. For all intents and purposes, a city is really a limitedly energetic ecosystem. That is not to say that evolution and adaptation are not occurring, because they are. But the species that do adapt to our cities and colonize them are those that we usually associate with being first-colonizers (they often said when I was a child that if we did end up blowing up the world with nuclear devices that rats and cockroaches would likely survive and re-colonize the waste lands we created ? I doubt I was the only one who realized that rats and cockroaches are the first creatures to re-colonize the cities. Puts a new spin on the term ?wasteland?.)

This low-energy evolution occurs very slowly. And because we live in these low energy ecosystems, we are exposed to the influences of evolution on smaller scales (it is never defeated, only slowed down). It?s lack of exposure to the influence of evolution that is the reason behind the seeming lack of evolutionary change (And perhaps even degradation) within the human genetic pool. It?s not that humans are special, it?s just that evolution occurs very slowly in deserts, and that?s really what cities are: evolutionary deserts. Sure things live in deserts and some deserts thrive in a relative sense, but things occur slowly. But then cities do exactly what we should expect them to ? they act as buffers to evolution. When our cultural focus has for the past ten millennia been a war with the processes of evolution in an attempt to war against ?nature? we have to expect that our cities will forward that goal themselves. We /could/ theoretically have cities that are arboreal and thriving with animals and life, but it would not be convenient to our /way of life/ ? picking zebra hide out of the grill of the taxi or being mobbed on the subway by a militant band of gibbons. Our dwellings reflect our way of life, so barren desert-like cities are only natural. And as long as we hide within our domesticated (the process of taming or subduing) existences we?re hiding from the potential of evolution.

So, when people say that we can do no /real/ harm to the world, even if we destroy it, the preceding is what I try to explain to them. No, we can?t really harm the general condition of /life/ but we can set back evolution by a few million years. Then the whole cycle has to get started all over again. Peak ecosystems have to start over from scratch, rising up out of the wastelands like rats and cockroaches. Is that really bad, they inevitably ask? And that question is really something you have to answer yourself. Is it bad to cause the cycle of evolution on the planet to start over simply because you don?t care and are too lazy to change? Probably not, as it is often pointed out, life on this planet will not go on perpetually. Once the sun begins to expand, life will just be burned away. By resetting evolution you?re really resetting life?s attempts to buffer energy on this planet and establish equilibrium. Who knows, perhaps when the sun begins to heat up, if life was given a chance to continue on evolving and reaching towards that ever-loftier summit of equilibrium, perhaps it could dissipate even /that/ energy and perhaps continue on. The chance is slight, but then, so are the chances for life in the first place. And who is to say what the next level of equilibrium would be like? What the next manifestation of life would be limited by. We?ve been caught up in the role of the Divine Conqueror for so long that we?ve been blinded to the potential that rests in nature and thusly in ourselves. But that?s a choice, and its about time we realized it was.

Now that the conversation has turned more in regards to homonid evolution it may be helpful to point out briefly that species seem to exist in three states in 'nature'. The first state is characterized by not having enough food - this state forces adaptation and evolution in the realm of expansion of tastes, traits and territories. The second is having a subsistance-level amount of food - this state doesn't promote adaptation or evolution, the species is equalized with the environment (a shark is a good example of this equalized state - some species havn't evolved for millions of years. Also species that exist within this subsistance state tend to live longer for whatever reason). The third state is having an over-abundance of food - this state causes a species to refine its tastes, adaptations, skills and territories (in short, the process of specialization). The human animal in its civilized state of reduced evolution is only negligibly effected by any of these three energetic states. Though perhaps not entirely. It is possible that certain biological phenomenon like cancer could be attributed to mutations caused by existance in an over-consumptive state - cancer is just a non-beneficial biological mutation or a non-beneficial evolutionary step. That's a big theroy, don't try to swallow it too quickly or you might choke.

Ish



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InvisibleMokshaMan
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Registered: 03/13/01
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Re: evolution [Re: Traveller]
    #410231 - 10/01/01 05:33 PM (19 years, 6 months ago)

Thank you for the information, for the most part I was aware of all of this. Well ok, not that they used the jaw bone to determine in teeth were used as wepons, but the rest of it I knew. I still see a problem with it though, I mean they're basically guessing. I own an encyclopedia, a high school biology book, a college biology book, and another college biology book that my wife brought from Canada when she came to marry me and each one has a different picture of the evolution of man based on fossils. I seriously doubt that we'll with any certainty in the next 100 or so years be able to say this is our first ancestor. I mean there are some people that claim Lucy should be included and others that don't. There's not one set theory that holds up for any length of time and until there is I don't see how it's not a joke.

As for Neanderthals, I hadn't heard the theory of the dog as to why our senese of smell became less important, but this would indicate that we "domesticated" the animal very early in our history. Of course, I've also read theories that the Neanderthals were the first to develop the chimney and this lead to fires not being at the front of caves and therefore they were easier prey. I've also heard that there is no genetic evidence that Neanderthals and humans ever cross bread. In fact the only people that have a distinctly different genetic pattern is a group in South America. Or at least that was the tour guides claim when I was there. This group claims to have been the first group in the area and says that the level of difference between them and any other group is proof of their claim. Not sure this is important, but just an interesting aside.



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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
-- George Owell


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InvisibleMokshaMan
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Re: evolution [Re: Traveller]
    #410262 - 10/01/01 06:00 PM (19 years, 6 months ago)

Your example of race is flawed, we have not been able to adapt our environments for as long as it takes to diversify enough to create different races. Besides as long as we can still breed with any other human and that new human can breed as well we're not really that different. I don't see changing sociologically as an evolutionary change, but that's me. Of course with a mother who has a degree in this and brings it up all the time(wish she'd stop doing this), what do I know. Society changes because of innovation by man that further attempts to allow him to control everything surrounding him. Yes our bodies are changing, I firmly believe that we are devolving as in we're going backwards. In the past we based who we would breed with on who was the strongest(or "most fit) and now you can be extremely ill and still look fine(look at JFK). Of course this has allowed us in some was to go forward with societial progress. I will agree that you make sense and your arguments are fairly sound. But you can make the case for anything, look at Hitler and the Nazis. In some ways it would have been a tremendous step forward(creation of supermen through specific breeding), but in many others it would not have been(the destruction of many groups of people, the homogenous nature that would have taken over, I'm sure there are a million more things). Societal change in groups isn't evolution, which is why social darwinism has been completely dismissed by the majority of the scientific community. While I think Thomas Henry Huxley was brilliant, he gave more fodder to the Nazis with this idea than proving anything else.



--------------------
Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
-- George Owell


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Offlinedimethoxy
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Registered: 10/02/01
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Re: evolution [Re: MokshaMan]
    #411226 - 10/02/01 02:29 PM (19 years, 6 months ago)

I love the theory of evolution, not just for life on earth, but on a universal scale. Do you think that perhaps the next stage of human evolution is already encoded in our genes? what if our genes effected the way we made choices, and therefore its geneticaly encoded who we will mate with. Following this logic, if we could map entire population of earth at all times and knew exactly what everyone was up to (GPS, surveillance) and combined this with the knowledge of everybodies genetic code and pumped into into a massivly powerfull computer (perhaps the entire internet running as a giant virtual supercomputer). Then we could work out who is gonna have kids with who and what the kids will be like, we could predict exactly how we will evolve??? I know its a little far fetched but the basic technology is already in place, but we would need to take into acount cultral and ecological evolution. This would indeed be a very interesting computer game.

It's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for someone you are not.


--------------------
It's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for someone you are not.


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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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