Mk’s bk pg 106-107 – Chapter 3, Earth Mother Our Womb of Life
Evolution in 4 Easy Steps describes the formation of our Solar System, the planets and the evolution of life from its raw materials to its final forms as a cyclical system in Nature.
- Step 1: The Birth of a Solar System & ALMA images show how the planets first form out of a Nebula, and how our young Earth contained all the ‘material’ for life – the micro-organisms, gases and chemicals.
- Step 2: Friction at the Core & Magnetism – Earth’s Guiding Force explain and provide evidence of how the Core of the Earth, an iron ball the size of our moon, is rotating in the opposite direction to the mantle creating friction. Friction creates heat, energy and magnetism rising up through the body of the planet to ‘animate’ – bring to life – the biology of Earth.
Now we are at Step 3 which tackles evolution. I’ve divided Step 3 into 2 parts (3a and 3b) because evolution is a dynamic event: 3a describes the mechanism that initiates the event and 3b describes what happens next. A bit like a catapult – 3a describes the release the spring, and 3b describes the launch of the payload. This is Step 3a:
The physics of a catapult
Quoting from Earth Mother Our Womb of Life:
Present day ideas about evolution arise from those of Charles Darwin, who envisioned many, small transitional changes in organisms, with off spring varying slightly from their parents. As a small change proved advantageous, it was implemented. As later changes brought further improvements for survival and reproduction, they were carried into future generations. However, all efforts to trace the origin of man are dependent upon a fossil record which is unable to provide an unbroken series of transitional forms. Rather than supporting an unbroken pattern of development, fossil evidence strengthens the case for punctuated equilibria.
I love that quote – it’s succinct and true. Our fossil record doesn’t match our explanation for evolution. The quote below from the textbook: “Explore Evolution” explains how “punctuated equilibria” (or equilibrium) came about:
“Many paleontologists are well aware of the conflict between the fossil record and neo-Darwinian theory [Darwin's theory is now known as ne0-Darwinism since the inclusion of genetics]. In the traditional view, the fossil record was always to blame for the missing pieces of the evolutionary puzzle. Darwin, himself, had said the fossil record was ” woefully incomplete”.
By the early 1970s, some scientists including paleontologists Niles Eldredge and the late Stephen Jay Gould, began to become dissatisfied with this explanation. “We paleontologists,” wrote Eldredge, “have said that the history of life supports that interpretation [of gradual adaptive change], all the while really knowing that it does not.”
Eldredge and Gould decided to take a different approach. Instead of blaming the fossil record, they accepted the fossil data at face value. They agreed that the fossil record really does show many groups of organisms appearing abruptly, continuing for millions of years and then going extinct. “Stasis is data,” they insisted. Eldredge and Gould advocated a new evolutionary theory, called “punctuated equilibrium”.”
“Punctuated equilibria” means that evolution takes place in a series of sudden and repeated changes. According to punctuated equilibria, our solar system is the scene of regular changes, where long periods of equilibrium (relative uniformity) are interrupted by brief periods of excitation (punctuation). This throws a very different light on evolution.
“Punctuated Equilibrium was immediately attractive to many paleontologists because it described the fossil record more accurately than neo-Darwinism had done. However, many critics of the theory pointed out that punctuated equilibrium has never explained how the major changes recorded in the fossil record could have taken place in such a short time.”
The last sentence is important – although punctuated equilibria (or equilibrium) matched the fossil record, it proved problematic because:
- a) paleontologists could not provide an explanation for the punctuations; and
- b) how could life evolve so dramatically and so quickly after the punctuations?
In this post (Step 3a) I’m going to tackle the first problem and in Step 3b I’ll tackle the next.
Mk’s bk pg 116-117 – The end is nigh – iridium marks evolutionary jumps.