Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Evolutionary camouflage


Overheard in the caravan:

Hay has spotted a bright orange and white cat hunting in the field.

Hay: “Look at that cat. It’s a living contravention of the theory of evolution. He’s white and orange and hunting something in a green field, totally oblivious to the fact he’s as well camouflaged as a white and orange cat in a green field. “

On a related subject, here's an extract from The Black Swan: “Most of the debate between creationists and evolutionary theorists lies in the following: creationists believe that the world comes from some form of design while evolutionary theorists see the world as a result of random changes by an aimless process. But it is hard to look at a computer or a car and consider them the result of aimless process. Yet they are.


16 comments:

  1. Yeah but did the cat catch anything?

    Mind you creationists defy the theory of evolution, real homo-sapiens can't be that stupid, can they?

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  2. Depends if what the cat is hunting has colour vision. He might consider himself a grey and white cat in a grey field...

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  3. Steve: He thought staying still would overcome any camouflage deficiency.

    Kabbalah: Ginger, white and green colour blind.

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  4. Surely the evolutionary idea of camouflage is to stop others hunting you? So actually the question is whether the nearest dog is colour blind...

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  5. Louise: Lions and tigers are camouflaged.

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  6. I suspect that Hay spotted the somewhat rare wild marmalade cat : the only known animal to hunt for pray in jam jars. As for the evolution quote : I am not sure about the use of the word "aimless". I always thought that there was an "aim" in the workings of evolution - which was self propagation.

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  7. Ginger toms of the caravan, sir, aye !

    More seriously,I'd just like to point out that the car and the computer are not the result of an aimless process but the by-product of one (this is what is known in France as sodomizing a dipterous insect).
    P.S. I'm still smarting from the stings about HR!

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  8. Alan: Evolution is a blind process and hence can't be said to have an aim. Most of the mutations lead to dead ends or are lethal and it's estimated that over 99% of all the species that have ever developed since life started have disappeared.

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  9. Whatever happened to "here, Kitty, Kitty!" ? xx

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  10. Its the selection part of evolution that gives living things the illusion of design and "aim", the mutation part provides the raw materials for selection to work on. Mutations are random, selection is most certainly not, people often attribute "randomness" to the evolutionary process, but that's not strictly true.

    CB is right about dead ends, in that in the cat example the cat may well have a mutation that makes its fur orange, but if it is unsuccessful at feeding and subsequent reproduction this characteristic will not be passed on and his line will die out; the fact that you get an unsuccessful branch is validation for evolution rather than a disproof of it, populations evolve, not individuals.

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  11. Steve: It's also safe to say every invention or discovery which has resulted in massive benefits for mankind was made accidentally as a by-product of looking for something else. They were not designed.

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  12. Bill, that's an interesting thought; human design can't be compared with evolution of course because we have the luxury of throwing out an old design and starting from scratch, evolution has to work with what it already has, hence why we have blind spots and bad backs etc.

    I might have to pick up a copy of that book, I can't think of any discoveries that weren't by-products; DNA structure maybe?

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  13. Steve: No - Rosalind Franklin was working on the Tobacco Mosaic Virus and it was her work on that which led directly to the structure of DNA. Again, an accident.

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  14. The domestic cat has probably evolved to camouflage with a comfey basket.

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  15. Creationists, and the hold they have over parts of our education system (see Academies), do my fecking heid in! x

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