For the fact that the concept of evolution (particularly the human evolution) has been one of the mostly theorized aspects of science has raised some untold insinuations that might prove contradictory to the accepted theories of evolution. No doubt, evolution is regarded as a science fact; and if it is a fact, then it is gotten through systematic reviews, testing, and observation of comparative data, which at the point of analysis and review has been proven to be true. But as it were; there is no guaranteed immunity that these facts may not be overridden in the future when another fact superimposes on it; just like the dark sides of evolution we busted in the last episode - you can take a quick recapitulation of the last episode:
The Darwinian model of evolution has been such that has found acceptability in the concept of evolution. But even at that, there are places that have been kept in the dark zone. Like this; evolution is meant to ensure our adaptability, sustenance, continuity, and survival right? Then what is "aging" ensuring, if not death? We've seen the purpose of aging as it relates to evolution. And also, another concept was brought from the dark zone, and that is "supremacism" - which showed how different subspecies of organisms (hominins; in this context) have been differentiated from each other as either being inferior or superior...
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There have been some areas of human existence that have been in absolute opposition to each other, and because of this, the concept of evolution has been kept long in the grey zone. Because, I mean, none of us in this present era lived to witness all these evolutionary parameters first-hand. So the major tools at our disposal to gain a vague insight of what happened behind the scene are "fossils" - and of course, oral tradition, and written records could prove useful too. In this episode, we will be dissecting the areas of conflict and contradictions in human evolution.
Lenght Alert: You might find this piece pretty lengthy, but I promise, it's worth the length. Alright guys, join me as we evolve together.
The first area of contradiction is something that might have crossed the minds of many since the start of the series, and that is in the area of creationism.
CREATIONISM VS EVOLUTION
Some people have believed that the human species were formed by some supernatural forces, and this has created serious opposition to the science of evolution. This is not to talk about some other legends and myths relating to the existence of man; like that of the Fulanis (in the Northern part of Nigeria and the Chadian region) that believe that humans were created from a big drop of milk - no wonder their love for Fura d Nunu (fresh cow milk), but also, other tribes are not left out of some weird beliefs too. I once heard of a very funny myth sometimes ago that expresses that humans came from a very mysterious tree called "anunebe"... lol, holy shit!!. But asides that; coming to the religious aspect of it, some have also believed that everything we see today (including humans) were created by a supreme supernatural being - as cited in the holy books. And like you would guess right; your belief in one is inversely proportional to your belief in another, and that is why I earlier stated that the concept of evolution is mostly theorized.
Just very recently, I read a publication by Dr Ellis Silver, which suggested that the first life form on earth (in relation to the humans species) was seeded here by some aliens from some extraterrestrial colony. And in his own school of thoughts, he raised his own theories in attempts to substantiate his claims. Firstly, he observed that the curvature of our spine and back only suggests that we are mostly suitable for adaptation on planets with a lesser gravitational pull. And also that our skin structure is not particularly synced to adapt to the continuous rays of the sun for everyday, and that is the reason we put on cloths - being the only species to do so. Really? So why would aliens drop us off on earth? Like the way you drop a naturally violent person in a prison; but are humans naturally violent as species? Well, that's a discourse for another day. Some proponents of the same school of thought as Dr Silver have said that human life might have not really been seeded by alien species, but might have been seeded on earth through meteors and whatnot, but like you know, this is also in opposition to the theory of evolution.
Another account has also suggested that humans might have come from some sea creatures and not necessarily from Ape-like creatures. From comparative embryology, when you take a look at the embryos of humans at the early stage of development, you would discover they look like tadpole (with gill slits, tails et al) right? But also, this is common to the embryos of Apes too; so does it suggest that we have an aqua-ancestral descent? But on contrary to the other of the extant Ape species, the babies of humans have a natural swimming capability when they are born, and they show strong affinity for water (though I'm not saying you should drop your newborn in water, but if you do, you'd be surprised they wouldn't drown - nature at its finest).
Also, looking in-between your fingers, you would discover that there are miniature web-like appendages or paddles between the fingers. But do you know that these web-like paddles were more pronounced in the embryonic stage of development, and these have been some of the factors that have aided the likes of David Attenborough to postulate that humans' origin could be traceable to the bottom of the sea. But I ask; are humans the only species that have pointers towards aqua-ancetory? Even from Charles Darwin's book; Origin of species; all living things have been proven to have a descent from water; right from the Prokaryotes (which is the first life form) to the Eukaryotes, but we are only focused on the humans aspect of evolution.
But looking at all these creationist theorems, some part of them have followed a coherent pattern that is also pointing vaguely to evolution. Here's what I mean: Majority of these creationists (people who believe in creationism) also do believe that some small changes have been happening to the humans species over time, like the mutation in eye colour, loss of hair, skin colour et al. And looking at this remotely, this could be termed "microevolution" - which; in the real sense of it; is regarded as evolution; only that they have refused to accept the formation of an entirely new species - which is "macroevolution". Here's a question to the creationists: if you believe that the humans species have been altering (both physically, morphologically, and in adaptation), why do you not believe that some other species had to change repeatedly with time till it got to the extant modern humans? Or do you think that these changes were initiated with the extant modern humans? Or maybe they need to know that the accumulation of microevolution would lead to macroevolution.
But as it were; creationism is not the only opposition to evolution we have. Looking at another aspect; some evolutionary scientists have believed that species had a lesser time to evolve distinctively to the next species; and this is called catastrophism, while some are proponents of gradualism.
CATASTROPHISM VS GRADUALISM
From the lingual point of view, a catastrophe is something that happens dramatically and suddenly right? Though catastrophism goes beyond just the human evolution to even the birth of the earth, but applying it to the human evolution, it suggests that humans appeared in this extant form without necessarily passing through the evolutionary rigors of millions of years of adaptation and mutations. Some also do believe that; as against these millions of years; evolution would take just thousands or less years. And as it were; some of these catastrophists also tilt towards believing in the creationist theorems. The likes of James Ussher, Carolus Linnaeus, John Ray, Comte de Buffon (who also had a belief that the age of the earth could be around 75,000years, and no species should have been older than that), Erasmus Darwin (not to be confused with Charles Darwin) etc.
But going with fossil analysis, the Sahelanthropus; for example; has been dated to about 7million years ago, so what does this tell you? Obviously, the age of the earth is way more than what Comte de Buffon et al want us to believe. And remember, this is just one of the not-so-distant species. Looking at another point; for one specie to completely and distinctively evolve into the next specie, it could take somewhat of 1milllion years (like we dissected in the previous episodes). If you doubt that; may I ask you this: In over 200,000years of the appearance of modern man, what significant and characteristic alterations and speciation (initiation of entirely new species) have been documented? This points out to the fact that evolution is rather a very slow process, rather than the one that comes at the press of a button. But this does not rule off the fact that many things have been altering the speed of human evolution lately - just like I sighted technology in the last episode. But in all these, it is still not as fast as catastrophism presents it.
Even within the postulations of gradualism, species might not only show a very gradual rate of alterations (and speciation), but might be followed by a long period of non-alteration; and this is known as punctuated gradualism. Logically; with recourse to fossil analysis; gradualism holds more potency than the catastrophism. But with further analysis (and fossil study) the concept of evolution would become clearer.
Even though evolution has been explained using science as tool, there are some areas that are in opposition to these theories of evolution. Among these evolutionary contradictions is creationism; which suggests that humans were created by a supreme being. We have tried to see the view of evolution in relation to this, and have tried to draw our own conclusion. We also considered catastrophism and gradualism. I believe your knowledge has now been enhanced about evolution. Let's keep evolving.
Disclaimer: This article is a presentation of the view of evolution, and does not; in any way; suggest that your belief is no longer your absolute prerogative.
Thanks for reading
References for further reading
- Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
- Natural selection and adaptation of species.pdf
- The descent of man - By charles Darwin.pdf
- Proponents of catastrophism and creationism
- Gradualism and the punctuated gradualism
- Overview of the evolution of hominins
- Humans; not from earth - Dr Silver Ellis
- The human evolution - a review
- Did human come from space?
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