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Some ideas I'm percolating on articles to write or improve[edit]



Evolution and the question of "Why?"[edit]

I have begun a slow, occasional project of my own, to insert some information about the pitfalls of asking "why" a trait exists or has evolved in a species or organism. I am placing this discussion on my own talk page because I hope to get feedback on the phrasing and concept from anyone who cares about this issue.

Below is the text I have started with, inserting as needed wherever I find a discussion that seems to promote or imply the mistaken impression that the process of evolution is somehow attracted toward producing "useful" traits. I also believe it's a valuable note to insert in places where hypotheses explaining "why" a trait has evolved have neglected to mention how unknowable the answer must be to such an inquiry.

Please let me know what you think about my project, the specific text, and the best uses for this type of clarification.

The text I'm using (current version):

A cautionary note about interpreting "why" a trait exists: Survival of a genetic line reflects the absence of traits which destroy the organism under local conditions, as much as the presence of traits which help the organism compete for resources. Therefore, any trait may either give a competitive advantage or simply remain present in offspring without harming enough individuals to destroy the genetic line that contains that trait. As with all evolutionary questions about why a trait survives, it is never fully certain how, or even that, any given trait enhances an organism's evolutionary advantage. The trait may simply exist as a genetic variation which is not harmful enough under local conditions, to destroy the genetic line. However, since it can be an opportunity for insight about evolutionary circumstances, many people have considered various hypotheses for each trait's continued existence.

I've placed the cautionary text in the extant Evolutionary section of Epicanthic fold. Unclepea (talk) 15:57, 1 July 2010 (UTC)


Cool Wiki admin person who so warmly welcomed me to the Wikiworld: User:SCEhardt