The "Speciation Problem"

It won't do to get too technical on a web site like this, but there doesn't seem to be a way to avoid at least a short discussion of this crucial evolutionary issue. I'll try to be brief and clear, though it's a thorny one with lots of branches.

In the Darwinist view, an animal is from species A when it can't breed with and produce viable offspring with a member of species B regardless of how much the two organisms resemble each other and regardless of whether one of the A's can copulate with one of the B's. "Viable" means the progeny can grow up in nature to produce more progeny. This last concern is important, since geneticists can tweak all sorts of remarkable, sometimes monstrous-looking, mutated organisms into existence in the lab and nurse some of them along to maturity. But these are very often sterile and/or can't survive outside the lab. Nor has any lab geneticist ever created a new animal species by such tweaking; just many variants of one species.*

Note also the vast difference between "breeding" for various traits in directed** mutations -- the way we got the emotionally unstable Irish Setter or the Pug dogs whose faces are so deformed that they can hardly breathe -- and the way organisms develop in non-directed nature. Many of these fancy "breeds" have been witnessed to revert to their older forms if left on their own in nature for several generations. Or to be outright unable to survive in a natural habitat.

Why does this issue bear detailed scrutiny? Because more than one of you hawk-eyed readers who've gotten this far into the sub-pages will have wondered whether the homo noeticus we speculate about who might be the result of an evolutionary jump will be able to breed successfully with his/her ecological niche-mates, homo sapiens.

If no. . .omigod!

If yes, what kinds of twilight-zone beings will the kids be? Are we, by implication, stumbling headlong into a Rosemary's Baby scenario? Or worse? (Remember from the Evojoke page that evolution is not guided by what we want. . .at least it hasn't been up to now.)

Okay, if your alarm buttons have been pushed, welcome to the club. The answer is: We don't know, yet many signals for such a jump are in place. Might behoove us to figure a way to get what we want onto the evolutionary agenda.

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*Plant hybridization in nature or the lab, grafting, cloning, specialized breeding and the question of what constitutes a proper "species" by any standard once one or more of these operations have been performed is an extremely complex subject, fraught with argument. I'll pass on it here. Suffice it to say that few contemporary botanists have much use for Darwinism. Apparently plants are just too wild and woolly, and there are very few plant fossils to use as evidence. Also, I'm not competent to discuss botany, and it has limited relevance to our work. The Post-Darwinist case can be made easily without reference to it.

**Note that naive Darwinists often advance the phrase "selective breeding", to "prove" that evolution proceeds by "natural selection". An obvious mistake. "Breeding" is plainly a case of "directed evolution". Nothing "random" about it. And no new species either.

 

 

 

planetary orbits