In this line of thinking has anyone ever considered that there may be an average general rate of evolution based on the level of complexity of the specie evolving
Molecular biology has considered this. I believe it has been confirmed that there is a different rate of evolution for vertebrates than invertebrates.
Environmental factors are an obvious push but does a less complex organism have a better chance of adapting than a more complex one?
What really matters is diversity. If there are a lot of different alleles in the population, the more chance the population has to adapt to changing environment. Sexual reproduction spreads genes around significantly, so sexual reproduction might be a characterstic for a fast evolving organism.
Is biological complexity itself an advantage or disadvantage?
Biological complexity isn't really a characteristic unfortunately, as you have anticipated. The merit a set of genes has for building a machine slightly more advanced than its rivals is that gene may be able to take advantage of a niche that is unoccupied, which means those genes are free to replicate with no competition (short term). We have to look at these things as short term goals...to reproduce successfully. So, in the short term, complexity is advantageous. However, like any arms race, it may well have been more efficient had the escalation never happened and everything just remained single-celled.
Its just that once single-celled organisms began cooperating with one another in a 'complex' manner they had such a short term advantage over their uncooperative rivals that they were able to reproduce more often/more easily/etc.
As Einstein is credited with saying:
quote:"I don't know what weapons World War Three will be fought with, but World War four will be fought with sticks and stones."
Sticks and stones are not complex, but they have an advantage in that they are simpler and everyone can use them. However, the moment arrives when someone sharpens his stick and then someone else sticks a pointy rock on the end, later someone shrinks the stick and fires from a bow...you know the rest. When the competition gets more advanced you escalate or die. Its tragically doomed to failure, but there you go.
I am asuming alleles evolve. New alleles must emerge correct? If so what effects the rate of devergence. What effects which new ones will emerge and thier purpose? There must be some governing factor or life would develope into the equivalent of an abstract art painting no?
Without a governing factor, you are right. The governing factor is natural selection. The new effects are ones which provide a positive effect on reproductive success.
Has anyone hypothesized why life took a general move toward the more complex in the first place?
Yes, the simplest way to see it is as an arms race as I described.
hen one could think of insects and animals as just a macro of single cells. We have membrains and cilia of a fashion and our insides are divided into differnt parts that work together as a whole. So in your line of thinking we are likely a short lived phenomenon in the big biological picture?
If you mean 'we' as in me and you, then yes. In a sense we are temporary vehicles built by a molecule with the purpose of making copies of our genes (or not, and have our genes selected against).
Natural selection has yet to be properly defined let alone fully understood by us.
Natural selection has been well defined for a long time. Darwin did an amazing job of discussing selection and the contrast of deliberate selection and non-delibirate selection (selection in nature, or natural selection). As long as there is differential reproductive success there is, by definition, natural selection.
So the thinking is that nature evolves random instructions....many that are not useful and some just happen to be?
Well, this is variation not natural selection. Once there are replicating instruction, then any variation that occurs during replication will either increase or decrease reproductive success (or neither).
The fact that it all works when thinking of it in those terms makes it look like a trillion to one shot. Has anyone ever done a statistical analysis of the evolution of the genetic code in relation to life's viability?
It seems unlikely that it would get to where we are becaues there are so many other ways it could have been. It is been shown that statistically unlikely events can be made more and more likely if a cumulative selection process is used. Natural selection is a very powerful cumlative selection process.
So natural selection puts all it's marbles on reproductive success?
Natural selection is basically defined as the differential reproductive success that occurs in nature. Its not a question of putting marbles anywhere, its just what it is, have you seen demonstrations on the power that differential reproductive success (ie cumulative selection) can have?
Factors in reproductive success could very widely.
Agreed, we'd expect to see a large array of solutions. We'd expect to see predators that are very good at killing to survive long enough to mate and we'd expect to see prey that are good at getting away long enough to mate.
. Can one say for sure that reproductive success is not the outcome of some other factors instead of reproduction allways being the definer?
Reproduction isn't the definer. Reproductive success, on average, is dependent on the way the genes cooperate to build a body that is capable of surviving long enough to reproduce. It is possible for differential reproductive success to stop in any given population. This would either be 'stasis' or 'extinction'.
. If one does look at it soley from a reproductive standpoint then edjucation will likely lose out. Statistics show that the more edjucated you are....the less likely you are to have children. Natural selection favors the ignorant and the horny. Intelectuals are a dying breed? Become the recessive gene if you will.
I've seen the same statistics. It depends on whether or not intellectualism is a genetic trait, or if it is a result of nurture. I think there is a significant evidence that it might be a bit of both, but with emphasis on the nurture. That said, nurture itself replicates with children learning from their parents perhaps learning new techniques. So in a way, yes, the ignorant and horny constitute a majority. I think this matches with observation doesn't it?
You are careful with your choice of words (as always), so I can't really nail you here :)
But not always with my typing :)
But yes, what you say is right. I was thinking of what you just said, but couldn't think of a good (and accurate) way of putting it. I was thinking more along the lines of 'macroevolution' (by habit, I'm so used to hearing 'but that's microevolution' that I err towards the 'big' changes subconsciously). Because of the way that these changes can spread around the population, I figured that sexual species have an advantage.
I was also thinking of generational time, rather than real time (ie, per generation rather than per year). Sexually reproducing species tend to have longer generational times, since they also tend to be larger. Anyway, I've started rambling: I agree.