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Evolution - Chickens and Eggs

All or Nothing Features

This web page is mainly about factors that accelerate evolution and explores the idea that by acting on the mechanism of change the power of evolution is enhanced.

However, accelerating evolution is not enough to solve some chicken-and-egg type problems. The speed ups only work if there is already some small advantage in a change in a particular direction, they help to lock in on that direction.

There are a number of cases where it is hard to see how a partly evolved version of some feature would be at an advantage. Without this, how can evolution act?

Three apparently all-or-nothing problems to the theory of evolution are:

  • The Venus Flytrap - If the leaves close slowly or the 'prison bars' do not intercollate correctly the fly will get away.
  • The First Cell - An incomplete cell would not hold its contents, so what advantage would it have?
  • Accurate Replication - How could accurate replication arise from inaccurate replication?
In each of these cases there is a simple way out.
  • For the Venus Flytrap the Sundew points to how an intermediate could work.
  • For the first cell, 'tethered' reactions are a solution and
  • For inaccurate replication we can look at the problem in terms of evolution of 'Eigenstates'.
I'll write up the details of these if there is sufficient interest.

Catalase Website IndexJamesTechnoEvolution •Chicken & Egg Problems •
"Evolution - Chickens and Eggs" page last updated 5-July-2003