A Deeper Pattern (Video)

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December 23, 2009 Tags: History of Life

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

Yesterday, we discussed the aspects of both chance and necessity in evolution. Many of us have heard about the aspects of chance and randomness in evolution, but are there examples that hint at a deeper pattern throughout creation?

In this video interview, evolutionary biologist Simon Conway Morris discusses evolutionary convergence, the emergence of identical biological traits through unrelated evolutionary lineages. He gives two examples in the video -- the camera eye and saber toothed cats -- focusing specifically into particular detail about the various saber tooth cats that have emerged through different evolutionary paths. We are most familiar with the placental saber toothed cats that rose to prominence in North America, but Morris also points to marsupials in South America that also evolved startlingly similar giant canine teeth.

Why would these two unrelated lineages evolve the same teeth? According to Morris, "You almost get the sense that there are stable points in biological spaces towards which things can navigate." In this case, the "saber tooth solution" was an ideal arrangement. However, the evolutionary convergence may also point to a deeper order in evolution. As Morris puts it, "When you keep on recurring to the same solution again and again and again, it does suggest that there is at the very least a deeper pattern there."

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.

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Glen Davidson - #1142

December 23rd 2009

So-called “deep homologies” would appear to be behind a number of convergences. 

Platypus venom evolved from genes from which snake venoms also evolved, apparently without snakes and platypuses sharing a common ancestor having that venom.  It’s convergence, of course, but it’s also the “use” of genes which happen to be more “promising” in the first place.

It likely is analogous with bats and birds evolving wings from forelimbs which diverged in the distant past, yet are undoubtably the best candidates for evolving vertebrate wings.

Glen Davidson

beaglelady - #1227

December 26th 2009

What is the point? Did God plan for all sorts of animals to have these cruel, slashing teeth?  Is God like the cruel people who attach steel spurs to their fighting cocks for their bloodsport?  The saber-tooth cat at the AMNH has a broken saber-tooth, so they don’t seem to be too durable. And I don’t know of any saber-tooth animals in existence today.  I’m also wondering how many mutations it would take to turn a tooth into one of these long teeth.

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