According to the several theories of evolutions, living organisms alter their physical and anatomical structure over a long period of time for greater adaptations to the growing environment. Evolution resulted in speciation. The new species starts to reproduce their young ones. Evolution is not about the elimination of one species and arising of another; it is about the emerging of new species with adaptation from the existing species. This new species may or may not be better than the older ones. Thus evolution should not be equated with progress. Let’s see evolution versus progress and human evolution in detail.
Evolution vs Progress
Evolution is the progressive alteration in inherited traits over a large span of time, usually over generations.Environmental factors like temperature, climate, availability of resources, etc. had a great role in evolution. When an organism required to utilize a niche and they were not able to do so with their existing body design or structural components, evolution was initiated. Thus, the evolution happened because the environment demanded a modification, not because the older version was defective. We can’t call this progress.
Variation is the root cause of evolution and it gives the organism better chance of survival in its habitat. Evolution is not a ladder of progress but a by-chance process. The concept of natural selection is ‘survival of the fittest’, and individuals who are unfit were weeded out. In evolution, all that matters is how an organism ensures its existence in its environment. It is not about perfection.
For example thermophilic bacteria and archaebacteria. Evolution of archaebacteria resulted in the thermophiles.But we can’t say it is the better version of archaebacteria. This is because the archaebacteria still exist and both of these species are best in their own environment.
Progress is about the upgrading of levels i.e., the next level is better than the previous ones. Evolution is the adaptation of an organism to live a better life in its habitat. Adaptation to one habitat may not be the same as the adaptation to other habitats. Thus, evolution is relative to environmental conditions, not the progress.
Evolution has created a huge biodiversity. Natural selection, genetic drift, and speciation – all these factors shaped the biodiversity. The new species have never left a choice to mate with the previous ones. Each species had to reproduce in their own way with their own group members. This leads to the branching of species i.e., a common ancestor diverges into two or more different lineages. Human evolution also has the same story. If we talk about human evolution, the first thing which comes to mind is a chimpanzee. Even though human evolution is not from chimpanzees, they share a common ancestor. Both the species of human and chimpanzee evolved in their own way from a common ancestor as per their living conditions.
Nowadays we can trace the evolutionary relationships between species easily by using fossils, DNA sequences, excavation, etc. These can help us to know about human evolution as well. It is said that human evolution began in Africa. We are descendants of members of a human species called Homo sapiens. They stepped out of Africa and traveled all around the world. They mingled with the new and the old ones to produce a diversity of human species. We find different races of people around us, but all of them emerged from a single point.
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