A study on mutational possibilities suggests that benefits to fitness are too rare to account for evolution.
A bombshell article on PhysOrg seems to pull the rug out from under the Darwinian slogan, “survival of the fittest.”
When you think about evolution, ‘survival of the fittest’ is probably one of the first things that comes into your head. However, new research from Oxford University finds that the ‘fittest’ may never arrive in the first place and so aren’t around to survive.
By modelling populations over long timescales, the study showed that the ‘fitness’ of their traits was not the most important determinant of success. Instead, the most genetically available mutations dominated the changes in traits. The researchers found that the ‘fittest’ simply did not have time to be found, or to fix in the population over evolutionary timescales.
Harry Dayantis interviewed the co-author of a paper in PLoS ONE, Ard A. Louis of Oxford, who says the new phrase should be “arrival of the frequent.” The paper explains, “In other words, if the fittest never ‘arrive’ on the timescales of evolutionary change, then they can’t fix.” If “the frequent” mutants do not generate evolutionary progress or innovation, though, how can macroevolution take place? It seems equivalent to random genetic drift.
Whatever that possibility turns out to be, Louis recognizes his idea is a challenge to traditional evolutionary theory that relies on mutation and natural selection:
Traditional evolutionary theory focuses primarily on the work of natural selection. We are challenging this emphasis by claiming that strong biases in the rates at which traits can arrive through variation may direct evolution towards outcomes that are not simply the ‘fittest’.
Fitness, of course, needs to be defined (see “Fitness for Dummies,” 10/29/02). Assuming the traditional view for now, it would seem that mutational changes that do not improve fitness (whatever that is) would end up sorting out existing traits – changing traits like coloration that would be unlikely to innovate or add genetic information.
Louis says that mathematical models of evolution invariably include simplifying assumptions. “In our calculations we include difference in rates of the arrival of variation, something not traditionally taken into account in population genetics,” he said, adding that the new model only considered microbes, not more complex multicellular organisms. But since higher organisms are also made of cells (where the mutations occur), it would seem higher-fitness mutations would be even more rare because of pleiotropic effects (changes that might improve one gene but damage other dependent genes).
Louis was asked how his ideas have been received by evolutionary biologists:
On the one hand, biologists who work on evolution and development have not been so surprised because they have long argued that developmental processes can bias organisms to evolve in certain directions over others. Others have reacted with some caution, which is probably wise given the potentially far-reaching nature of our claims. I think we have raised a lot more questions that we have answered.
Louis himself was “very surprised to find that the biasing effect [against higher fitness mutations] could be so enormously strong,” he remarked. A theoretical physicist (not a biologist), Louis was inspired by the beautiful design in cells to investigate how they arose: “Biology is full of amazing self-assembled structures, and so we began asking: how do these structures evolve in the first place?”
OK, that’s it. Game over. Darwinists, go home. Bill Nye, you lose. Let’s not kill and mutilate any more millions through eugenics and government democide, what do you say? Darwin is dead; it’s long past time to face the facts. “Survival of the fittest” lands on the dustbin of false notions. If this new work raises more questions than it answers, then Darwinism is going backwards.
The longevity of myths like Darwinism is appalling. Here we are, in 2014, a century after Hugo de Vries admitted that evolution “cannot explain the arrival of the fittest,” and these new guys agree – not only confirming de Vries, but making his conclusion far worse for Darwin. At the end of the paper, they state:
When Hugo de Vries was advocating for the importance of mutations in evolution, he famously said “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest”. Here we argue that the fittest may never arrive. Instead evolutionary dynamics can be dominated by the “arrival of the frequent”.
If that is “far-reaching” now, it was “far reaching” a century ago, but Darwin’s juggernaut has continued to coast on fumes, rolling downhill with no power, running over anyone standing in the way. How many times does a notion have to be falsified before its proponents understand that it’s been falsified? This is like trying to kill a vampire. When it finally dies, so does Darwin’s other “zombie idea,” sexual selection (1/24/14). Darwin needs to get out of biology and find other work at monster.com.
“Biology is full of amazing self-assembled structures, and so we began asking: how do these structures evolve in the first place?” For one thing, they didn’t evolve (Darwinism is dead, remember?) Let’s answer the question with causes known to be capable of producing such effects: intelligent design.