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Re: Is Evolution Predictable?

From: Glen
Sent on: Sunday, October 28, 2012 3:04 PM
Countless examples of convergent evolution show that on the level of general patterns and "niche-filling" evolution is predictable, even if the details and features within species are not. For example, marsupial mammals in Australia developed into many forms (wolf-like, bear-like, etc) that look and behave a lot like their placental counterparts.  Likewise, if you look at what happened with the diversification of finches in the Galapagos Islands one could predict what would happen when a species lands on any other island with unfilled niches - the diversification will begin to fill all available niches--with behaviors and anatomic modifications evolving according to natural selection.  Much of this takes evolution place over time periods too slow to observe directly, but some of it can be seen even within decades or less, and does match general predictions as to the results:
Each time biologists studied island populations or other isolated species, we find similar patterns. So without question, evolution is to some extent predictable.  

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