Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chimps more evolved

This is an interesting story suggesting that chimpanzees have evolved more than humans since the ape-human split 6-8 million years ago. The argument is that chimps had larger effective population sizes in the past than humans and that drift may have played a more prominent role. Not sure...


  1. Wendell6:59 PM

    Dunno about the science, but my thought on hearing this story was that it's not surprising if chimps have evolved more, as long as evolution is considered only at the level of the genotype.

    If you consider other sorts of evolution such as the evolution of culture, society and technology, which are not traceable in the genome, the story isn't so simple.

    Such higher-level evolutionary processes, reflected in higher forms of behavior — such as caring for the weak or deciding on a norm of long-term monogamy instead of competing so fiercely for reproductive opportunities — might even help account for why evolution driven by "survival of the fittest" might give way to other forms of development. If we've accomplished the Darwinian mission, the pressures of natural selection could be alleviated, thereby slowing evolution at the level of the genome, at least in successful populations. (This argument has to have been made, hasn't it?)

    But this doesn't mean evolution has stopped altogether, only that it happens in different ways. The accomplishment of the mission to survive until we procreate merely faces us with another one. (I'll leave you to fill in the blanks.)

    Whaddya think, Jim?

  2. I'm going to have to sit and think about this one for a bit. Thanks, Orvandel.