Evolution and fit

 

He imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived.

But new research identifies the availability of “living space”, rather than competition, as being of key importance for evolution.

Findings question the old adage of “nature red in tooth and claw”.

Hm. I am not an expert on evolution, but it seems that BBC was able to fit in three misconceptions in three sentences. (From their article Space is the Final Frontier for Evolution.)

Evolution does have to do with fit – a fit between the organism and the environment. A fit in terms of what is asked for by the environment, what works, and what offers a higher chance for survival and the survival of offspring.

This naturally include a fit with ecological niches. Making use of, fitting into, and being well adapted to whatever niches are available.

And it also includes cooperation and competition. Cooperation among and within species opens up new possibilities. It allows for, for instance, symbiosis. And in social species, being adapted to cooperate and work together (which includes empathy, compassion, altruism etc.) gives a clear survival advantage. And competition among and within species also has its place.

These three – fitting into an ecological niche, cooperation, and competition are three of the many facets of evolution.

So to those three sentences from BBC:

He imagined a world in which organisms battled for supremacy and only the fittest survived.

No, not really. As far as I know, Darwin saw it more as fitting in. The species and individuals that fit in the best in whatever environment they are in, are more likely to do well and continue their lineage.

But new research identifies the availability of “living space”, rather than competition, as being of key importance for evolution.

Nothing new here. Darwin’s example of finches in the Galapagos Islands are an example of how ecological niches produce diversity.

Findings question the old adage of “nature red in tooth and claw”.

This comes from the post-Darwin social Darwinists, the ones who used a particular interpretation (distortion) of Darwinism to promote free market capitalism.

…………..

  • evolution and fit
    • fit with what is asked for, what works, what gives higher chances of survival/offspring
    • ecological niches – make use of, fit into, well adapted to
    • cooperation – adapted to cooperate, work together, common in many species (emphasized in Russia)
    • competition – (emphasized by the post-Darwin social Darwinism)
    • all three, facets of the process

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11063939

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