Life

Why Evolution Has Not Produced “Impossible” Traits Like Wheels or Machine Guns – A Deeper Look

  “From such a simple beginning, life has evolved into so many diverse forms, and the pace is still there.” Darwin once described the incredible diversity of life forms that evolution has produced.
  Evolution occurs because every individual of every species is slightly different. Individuals that are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their genes to the next generation, so traits beneficial to survival become widespread throughout the population. Over time, this slow process can create many miracles, such as the giant blue whale, the bees that work closely together, and the kangaroos with their own pockets, etc.
  Darwin admired the infinite possibilities of evolution, but he never asked another big question: If the evolution of nature is endless and has no forbidden areas, then why have no animals with wheels evolved? Could it be that there are limits to evolution and that some things are destined to never evolve?
  Animals on wheels are just one typical example, there are many others. In a 2015 paper, an American evolutionary biologist listed 32 combinations of traits that evolution seems to have never produced, such as no herbivorous snakes, no flying plants, etc.
  As for whether there are any forbidden areas in evolution, scientists currently divide their opinions into two groups: those with forbidden areas and those without forbidden areas. Let us first introduce the views of those who have restricted areas, and then introduce the views of those who do not have restricted areas.
  Is there a restricted area for evolution?
  In 2007, a paper on evolution also raised an impressive question – “Why didn’t zebras evolve machine guns?”
  The paper said that if zebras evolved machine guns, they could use them to fight off lion attacks at any time. , wouldn’t this be of great benefit to its survival? But in fact it didn’t evolve anything like a gun. why is that?
  The author gave an answer. He said that the evolution of complex organs must be completed step by step through many intermediate steps, and it is necessary to ensure that all these steps are beneficial to survival, or at least harmless; just like when we cross a river by building stones, we must ensure that every stone dropped is It allows us to embark safely. The machine gun is only useful when it is a complete gun. Before that, as a useless organ, it will only consume nutrients in vain and increase the burden of the zebra’s survival. Therefore, such evolution is destined to be impossible to achieve.
  When it comes to any wheel-like structure in animals, there is another specific difficulty: a wheel in reality consists of a fixed axis and a wheel that rotates around it. If animals evolve wheels, the fixed axis can be connected with the body. Connected, but what about the spinning wheels? How are the blood vessels and nerves on it connected to the body? This is a difficult question. Therefore, the wheel is likely to be one of the few restricted areas in nature that is inaccessible to biological evolution, and can only be made artificially by us to make up for the deficiencies of nature.
  Evolution has no restricted areas?
  Those who believe that evolution has no restricted areas tend to believe that evolution has no restricted areas. They say that evolution is an accumulation process. In this process, not only are the forms of life becoming more and more complex, but the “parts” that make up the organism are also evolving from few to many, from simple to complex. When the “parts” are few and simple, the life forms that can be assembled are few and simple. When the “parts” are many and complex, the life forms that can be assembled from them are also many and complex. As time goes by, the number of “parts” becomes more and more complex, so that any life form (such as an animal with wheels, a zebra with a machine gun), given time, can be produced on this basis. Biological evolution is one of the most endless processes in the universe. Its remarkable feature is that it can produce infinite diversity. Nature is far from exhausting all possible life forms.
  They refute the evolutionary forbidden zone theorists by saying that there is nothing you can’t think of about evolution, and there is nothing it can’t do. for example. If we were evolutionary biologists who lived during the Ordovician period about 450 million years ago, we would never be able to imagine some of the things that evolved later, such as flowers and birds, because the life forms at that time were too simple and too limited. , only simple sea creatures like trilobites. In the case of “narrow holders”, it is indeed difficult for us to realize the infinite potential of evolution. Biologists millions of years from now will also laugh at today’s evolutionary no-go theorists.
  Perhaps prejudice limits our imagination
  . In addition, evolutionary no-limits theorists also believe that many of the “impossibility” mentioned by no-limits theorists may also come from biases caused by our own limited knowledge or preconceptions.
  Regarding the bias caused by limited knowledge, an example can be given. It has long been thought that all spiders are carnivores. However, in 2009, scientists discovered a spider called “Kipling Bagheera” that mainly feeds on plants.
  Regarding preconceptions, let’s take the example of snakes that don’t exist that eat grass. In fact, throughout evolutionary history, many animals have switched back and forth between eating meat and being vegetarian. The giant panda is one such example. Although it now feeds on bamboo, its ancestors were carnivores, and the giant panda’s internal organs have not yet been fully adapted to eating plants. If, so far, no snake has been found to eat grass, this may only mean that the body structure of snakes is particularly suitable for eating meat, or it may just be a coincidence. For example, snakes’ closest relatives are lizards, and as far as we know, snakes’ closest relatives are lizards. It is known that many lizards are herbivores.
  To summarize the views of those who believe that evolution has no forbidden areas: evolution has no forbidden areas. Any complex body structure, such as animals with wheels, “gun-wielding” zebras, etc., can be produced in nature, provided that evolution is given long enough time.
  It’s not impossible, it’s not possible.
  If you think the above-mentioned views of the evolutionary no-limits theorists are too optimistic, blame them for making empty promises (you can ask, “What does time mean long enough? With the earth’s 4.5 billion years of history, it’s still Isn’t it long enough?”), then the following is a more cautious and conservative point of view for your reference.
  This view still insists that there are no forbidden areas for evolution, but at the same time, it also believes that it is unlikely that nature will evolve body structures such as wheels and machine guns; however, it is not because they are forbidden areas, but because to realize the functions of these body structures, evolution There are better, simpler strategies. In a word, it can’t be done without evolution, but it can’t be done!
  Take the wheel for example. The benefit we benefit from the wheel is that it can carry us faster and with less effort; people expect animals to evolve wheels, and the intention is nothing more than this. But just imagine, does running faster and with less effort have to be achieved through wheels? Wouldn’t it be easier to do it through wings? As for wings, that’s something that evolution has already realized.
  To take a step back, even if you have to travel by rolling on the ground, shrinking your entire body into a ball can still accomplish the purpose of the wheel. Many animals, such as some spiders, are good at shrinking their bodies into a ball and then using their limbs to push them around and roll on the ground. And compared to wheels, balls have greater freedom and are more flexible, while wheels can easily get stuck or fall over on uneven ground. Besides, flat surfaces are rare in nature. In this case, in order to achieve the purpose of running faster and with less effort, evolution has no reason to favor wheels. It has better solutions.
  A similar explanation could be given for the fact that zebras have not evolved machine guns capable of repelling lion attacks. Although there are no “gun-wielding” zebras in nature, there are also projectile weapons similar to guns. The swordfish, which uses water as a projectile weapon, and the antlion, which uses sand as a projectile weapon, are examples of this. What they have in common, though, is that they are all carnivores, whereas the zebras in question are herbivores. Their relationship with lions is only to avoid being eaten by lions, not to eat lions for survival, so being able to escape quickly is enough, so evolution does not need to design a gun-like projectile weapon for zebras.

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