Biologist Questions Neo-Dawinism

In a recent interview with Discovery magazine Lynn Margulis an American Biologist and University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusettes Amherst shares her scepticism of neo-Darwinian evolution. She first explains why she disagrees with the adequacy of mutation and natural selection:

 “This is the issue I have with neo-Darwinists: They teach that what is generating novelty (new speciation) is the accumulation of random mutations in DNA, in a direction set by natural selection…..Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn't create.... [N]eo-Darwinists say that new species emerge when mutations occur and modify organism. I was taught over and over again that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change-led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence."

In this vein, when asked about the Grants' famous studies of evolution in Galapagos finches, she states: "They saw lots of variation within a species, changes over time. But they never found any new species--ever."

When asked, "What kind of evidence turned you against neo-Darwinism?" she replies it is a lack of evidence for gradual change in the fossil record:

"What you'd like to see is a good case for gradual change from one species to another in the field, in the laboratory, or in the fossil record--and preferably in all three. Darwin's big mystery was why there was no record at all before a specific point, and then all of the sudden in the fossil record you get nearly all the major types of animals. The paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould studied lakes in East Africa and on Caribbean islands looking for Darwin's gradual change from one species of trilobite or snail to another. What they found was lots of back-and-forth variation in the population and then--whoop--a whole new species. There is no gradualism in the fossil record."

 

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