Re: Evolution, "adaptation", and what's currently adaptive

Len Piotrowski (
Mon, 9 Sep 1996 19:41:50 GMT

In article <50sd07$> (Bryant) writes:

>>Appears from my experience with extreme adaptationists that many more purposes
>>associated with the detection of UV light would do as well. This is an
>>especially surprising conclusion given the fact that vole poop/urine was
>>apparently only recently discovered to absorb UV light. What other
>>environmental materials may have this same property?

>You allude to a nice point that hasn't yet been mentioned, I think. Some
>traits will be favored by multiple selection pressures. More
>interestingly, some traits will be countered by some selection pressures
>and favored by others.

>The net fitness effects of the trait in such cases, averaged through deep
>evolutionary time, predicts whether a trait should be expected to
>disappear from a population or not.

However, the processes involved in the acquisition of all these effects just
multiplies the central problem between the emergence of the pigment and it's
use by the organism. This process cannot be simply defined away as "natural"
(that is, natural selection), and patently includes the possibility of active
agent in the association of sensed information and it's implications for the
organism, a process that may not be functional, or adaptive in the strict
Darwinian sense.


>Oh, man. Whatever, Lenny. You asked a simple question and I offered a
>great place to find an answer. There was no intention to insult in
>that. I thought it was ironic that I would recommend Gould's essay
>because our disagreements began with my critiquing Dr. Gould.

>>I guess it doesn't
>>do any good to question you on your home turf, eh Bryant? But thanks anyway
>>for the recommendation. I think I can handle the terminology from here on.

>You have completely misconstrued where I was coming from. I apologize
>for not qualifying the heck out of the recommended reading statement, as
>I will do, unsarcastically, from now on. This is a really difficult
>medium to communicate on; all the cues of sincerity (facial expression,
>tone of voice) are missing, and it's too easy to misread one another.

OKay, I'll take this at face value. I think I can muddle through the
systematics of phylogenetic taxonomies, enough to recognize it in practice and
discuss it in method. I still fail to find such significance in Firl's
"evolutionary pathway" or his zoological garden.