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Q: Evolution ( No Answer,   13 Comments )
Subject: Evolution
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: vaac-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 20 Jul 2006 20:20 PDT
Expires: 07 Aug 2006 14:14 PDT
Question ID: 748178
Belief in evolution has recently become so strong that it became
illegal to teach creationism in high-school even as an alternate
hypothesis. However, even the greatest believer in evolution will have
to admit that a chance of a species changing to another species within
a given amount of time, is highly improbable. Any event, even the most
improbable one, can, and will occur if you wait long enough. Thus the
occurrence of an event with a probability of one in a million, will
have a probability of 37 % of occurring once in a million trials.

Thus, any change from species to species, as improbable as it is, will
occur if given enough time. But for evolution to take place it must
have occurred during the limited amount of time (4.5 billion years)
that the earth existed.

Does anybody know of a study in which the probability of a change of
species to species within a given time has been calculated, or
estimated , or assigned an order of magnitude? I believe that there is
some speculation about a simian ancestor of man and when he lived

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 03 Aug 2006 23:11 PDT
Hi vaac-ga,

          It is clear you do not want any answer on evolution itself ..

(just by the way:

Consider the problem from the scientific perspective  of genes. Darwin's 
concept of evolution is just a theory, but a theory which explains many

But we can look at the probabilities. You say:
" Thus the occurrence of an event with a probability of one in a million, will
have a probability of 37 % of occurring once in a million trials "

Those numbers could be checked. However, the model implied here
 namely - that some (ill defined events called) 'species changing to
another species' are independent random trials. That is grossly
oversimplified assumption.

It is a bit more complex:

For $10 you can get some hard facts on probality aspects of  the theory,
not a protracted discusiion or arguments the issue itself.

Are you interested?


Clarification of Question by vaac-ga on 07 Aug 2006 13:29 PDT
After glancing to your 2 references, Hedgie-ga, and all the comments,
I came to the conclusion that even if I spend the rest of my life
studying everything said, I will not come to a meaningful answer.

Over a century ago we had the illusion that eventually science will
explain evetything. Today only one thing is clear: That we do not know
everything and cannot hope to know everything about the universe (not
only evolution) in the near or far future.

Therefore, Hedgie-ga, I am not interested in further amplification on
probability, which will be very time consuming to read, and is not
likely to add anything meaninful to my understanding.

Thank you, and all of you, for your comments.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Evolution
From: livioflores-ga on 20 Jul 2006 20:30 PDT
I think that it is better to talk about specializationof species than
change of species to species. For example only a fast gazelle can
escape from the lions, this means that only the faster ones will
survive in the time; this means also that the slow lions will no eat
and therefore die by starvation; then the faster lions will survive in
the time. This proccess makes the called natural selection work (lions
with big and strong muscles instead weak ones, etc.).
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: denco-ga on 20 Jul 2006 22:10 PDT
This might interest you, vaac-ga.

"Finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to develop
the concept of evolution are now helping confirm it by evolving.

A medium sized species of Darwin's finch has evolved a smaller beak to take
advantage of different seeds just two decades after the arrival of a larger
rival for its original food source."
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: myoarin-ga on 21 Jul 2006 03:02 PDT
Also, somewhere in the calculation suggested, it needs to be
considered that a specie includes many, many creatures.  One specie
mutating into a new specie is perhaps a one in a million event, but
with millions of members of the specie, the time frame in which this
can happen decreases significantly.

I doubt if any new "specie" in taxonomic terminology can develop now. 
An existing one may be discovered in a remote region, but any
evolutionary mutation, such as mentioned by Denco, will be identified
as a new sub-variety, or at best as a new variety.
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: anonymous3141-ga on 21 Jul 2006 05:41 PDT
Species can be defined as the group of population that can reproduce a
fertile offspring.
"Creation of a species" is not a one step process, it's gradual.
To give an example, let's say a group of monkeys leaves the group
living on an island and swims across to the mainland. Now the two
groups will evolve differently as natural selection will work
differently on the two groups. After a while the two groups may start
looking different, but they can still interbreed producing mixed
babies. After even longer time, they can still interbreed but they may
produce a large number of deformed offspring. The offspring may or may
not survive, or may or may not be sterile. After even longer time, the
two groups will not be able to produce any offspring, or all offspring
will be sterile. At this time process of species bifurcation is over.
There are many other ways in which new species may arise, but in most
cases it's a gradual multi-step process.
Talking about probability, it's very improbably that a group of
existing population does not evolve into another species over time.
Most species we see today will not exist after a few million years.
For example, if you freeze a human being now, and revive him/her after
a few million years. Most probably he/she will not be able to produce
a fertile offspring with any of the species existing at that time.
Like most processes in biology, the time needed to create a species is
highly variable and depends on genetic structure, environmental
conditions, amount of interbreeding between groups etc.
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: elids-ga on 21 Jul 2006 08:00 PDT
First, evolution is not something you ?believe? in, much like gravity,
evolution is a fact. Something we can learn about even though we still
can?t explain everything about it. Just like gravity, the fact that we
don?t know how it works doesn?t mean it is not there or that it is
something you can chose to ?believe? in or not.

It has already been pointed out that the chances of a species evolving
(not changing, if an individual animal were to become a member of
another species it would have ?changed? into a member of this other
species, but that never happens. If the descendants of a particular
species  have characteristics that are different from those of their
ancestors, it is said that the species evolved as supposed to
?changed?. One applies to the individual, the other to the species.)
are 100% it is practically impossible for a species not to evolve.
That said, not all species evolve at the same rate, for instance
cockroaches have not evolved at all over the last 400 million years,
while during that time the ancestral species  that led to humans
number in the dozens over several genre namely :

-The Gnathostomata, or gnathostomes, are the majority of the Middle
Devonian (-380 million years ago) 
[Teleostomy-Ostheichthyes-Sarcopterygii the last one includes
lobe-finned fishes and four legged vertebrates] to Recent vertebrates
-The Tetrapoda, the reptiliomorpha, the amniota (the last one includes
reptiles, mammals, birds, dinosaurs etc).
-The Synapsida - Eupelycosauria - Sphenacodontia - Sphenacodontoidea -
Therapsida (mammals and extinct relatives)
- Eutheria (placental mammals, originate in the Southern Hemisphere
120 million years ago during the age of dinosaurs.) Primates -
Catarrhini (humans, great apes, gibbons, Old world monkeys) -
Hominidae - Homo

From here on the line of descent is not entirely clear but it includes
at least these species:
-Homo Habilis  - Homo Rudolfensis - Homo Ergaster - Homo Erectus -
Homo Sapiens - Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

So you see, while the cockroach and scorpions as well as other species
like them have not changed in 400 million years, others like sponges
for 1.2 billion years and other even more primitive life forms like
the Eukaryotes  haven?t changed in 2.1 billion years our line of
ascent went through over a dozen genre and many, many more species.

Smaller microscopic life forms can literally evolve right in front of
our eyes, for instance a well known and extremely documented line of
descent would be the several strains of the HIV virus.
   ?We think of evolution as requiring thousands, tens of thousands or
millions of years to make significant changes - and often, it does.

   But evolution can also occur in a relative eyeblink. That's the
case when the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) becomes locked in a
survival struggle in the body of a patient who's taking powerful
anti-viral drugs.

  It's evolution in fast-forward mode. The virus, replicating billions
of times a day, can acquire new mutations at lightning speed:
eventually, some of the genetic changes enable the virus to resist
even the most powerful drugs. These drug-resistant viruses come to
dominate the population and threaten the patient's life.? to read more
about it go to

You should spend some time browsing through
and reading the links provided.

For a more entertaining autodidactic site 

As for the probability of a species evolving into another, it would by
force have to be little more than guess work, as we don?t know the
number of species that are alive today, much less the amount of
species that ever existed!
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: gregaw-ga on 21 Jul 2006 09:43 PDT
Here's a quick lesson in probability that is relevant to this subject.

To call evolution a "fact" is to be very narrow-minded.  To say: "we
don?t know how it works", but we know it's true, takes "belief".  We
can know that there is a force pulling us toward the earth (gravity)
because I jump up and I always come down.  I (nor anyone else) has
ever seen a species become another species.

Evolution is a relatively new theory and while I don't see it going
away any time soon, I think more people are starting to question its
validity as a "fact".  That scares people like elids-ga.
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: elids-ga on 21 Jul 2006 12:23 PDT
Interesting comment Gregaw. 

If you take the time to analyze what you just said, you?ll see that it
makes no sense. However, will not attempt to convince you of what is
plain to see. You see, people engage in theological debates not so
much with the intent of convincing the other party of his/her beliefs
but to convince themselves of what they are saying. This is the main
reason why all religions encourage their followers to ?spread the
word?, the more the convert repeats the mantra to others the more they
themselves will be convinced of what they are saying, and they may get
a new convert. The same is true of new atheist people, they seek
religious people with the intent of debating their religious beliefs
because doing so re-enforces their own convictions, explaining it to
others allows them to find better ways to explain it to themselves.

It?s been a very long time since I stopped being an atheist, for me
all superstitions fall in the same category, be that black cats,
ladders, gods or witchcraft. A good way to describe me would be; no
more religious than a cow, no more atheist than a horse.

Wish you well, hope you find solace in your beliefs.
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: frde-ga on 24 Jul 2006 04:41 PDT
I find your question rather specious.

Deliberately using 'species' as the criterion for evolution, or more
precisely 'selection' is a simple attempt to deny that, what we can
observe in a short period of time, happens to a greater extent over a
long period of time.

Elephants in Africa that have (genetically) no tusks, have become
significantly more common due to human predation.

There are lions that are substantially different in size and behaviour
in some obscure place due to a change in their environment.

Inbreeding and interbreeding produces identifiable changes in humans,
let alone domestic and farm animals.

Resistance to pesticides turns up in plants without the intervention
of a laboratory.

Malaria has got resistant to a number of drugs in my memory.

By attempting to redefine 'change' as 'radical change such that it is
incapable of interbreeding' is like saying because a man cannot lift
the Eiffel Tower he cannot lift a toothpick.

Incidentally, very different plants can interbreed, there are also
vague tales of mules not being sterile.

Personally, I suspect that there is something called 'accelerated
selection' whereby genes become dominant simply because they are
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: dops-ga on 25 Jul 2006 13:58 PDT
I just wanted to add a note that evolution (with the lowercase "e") is
defined as a change in gene frequency over time. We can directly
measure this in wild population using standard molecular biology
techniques. As frde-ga points out the effects of these changes are
often noted by changes in the frequency of characters in a population.
These changes can occur very rapidly with high selection pressures.

I'd also argue that, if you define species as an interbreeding
populaiton with fertile offspring (which not everyone does) then new
species of plants arise continually in the span of a generation.
Plants are extremely tolerant of polyploidy and will often ungergo
entire (or partial) genome duplication. This tetraploid plant is now
unable to mate with the dipliod relative because of incompatible
chromosome number. Hence by the above 'species concept"  now
constitutes a new species.

I also suspect that depending upon the nature of the mutation (eg
change in sperm morphology, etc) reproductive isolation could occur
within the span of tens of years not millions.
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: zerosystem-ga on 31 Jul 2006 11:20 PDT
"First, evolution is not something you ?believe? in, much like gravity,
evolution is a fact. Something we can learn about even though we still
can?t explain everything about it. Just like gravity, the fact that we
don?t know how it works doesn?t mean it is not there or that it is
something you can chose to ?believe? in or not."

fyi anything that is not supported by facts or empirical
mesurements/experiments is a belief. you can mesure gravity, you can
test it, there are facts that can support it (if you drop something it
falls) thus gravity is no more a theory or a belief but a fact.

evolution on the other hand is a belief (religion if you like) you
cannot mesure it, test it, there is no fact or evidence that supports
it.Dont let yourselfe be fooled by the propaganda, anyone who claims
having found proofs or facts supportion evolution (up untill now) has
been proven wrong (of course these scientist cannot publish their
stuff because the media and scientific community is controlled by
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: dops-ga on 31 Jul 2006 12:56 PDT
Hi zerosystem-ga,

Your assertion that we can not measure evolution (ie changes in gene
frequency) is incorrect.  Biologist can use either visible or
molecular markers to detect changes in allele frequency in a
population. These frequency of the changes can then be used to
calculate whether the population is under selection. There is no
belief involved. It is an objective measure. For example adult lactose
intolerance is an ancestral trait. However due to selection, most
caucasin populations have developed lactose tolerance. The ability to
eat calorie rich dairy products has allowed a selective (and
apparently fitness) advantage to lactose tolerant individuals.

This change in prevailing genotype from lactose intolerance to
tolerance does not constitute a speciation event. However changes in
gene frequencies are the basis of "Evolution" or "The Origin of the
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: zerosystem-ga on 01 Aug 2006 08:48 PDT
i did not say that we cannot mesure the micro ovolution of genes, i am
very well aware of these as i am a biochemistry graduate.

i meant that, given the time span that a specie is supposed to become
another specie, it is impossible for us to witness it or mesure it.

this is why Evolution will always remain a theory, even if it is true.

to elids-ga
This is the main
reason why all religions encourage their followers to ?spread the
word?, the more the convert repeats the mantra to others the more they
themselves will be convinced of what they are saying, and they may get
a new convert.
end quote

this is the absolute best description of evolutionists i have ever
heard, i couldn't come up with a better one myselfe

You see, people engage in theological debates
end quote

this is also something that evolutionists do when engaged in a debate
with someone qho does not believe in their theory, they accuse them of
being religious and try to take the debate to a religious debate to
discredit their opponent
Subject: Re: Evolution
From: dops-ga on 03 Aug 2006 18:52 PDT

And I hold a Ph.D in biology. I don't care about your politics or
religion. I agree with you that belief should not be considered as
fact. This is why I avoid religion and bad science. However where you
are wrong is in your statement that " i meant that, given the time
span that a specie is supposed to become another specie, it is
impossible for us to witness it or mesure it." Perhaps you might want
to look at my earlier comment. Speciation occurs in real time. Plant
species are arising as I type.

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