Evolution and the Story
It’s been said before that The Theory of Evolution is a collection of facts that need to be linked with stories. For instance, why do dinosaurs and birds have such similar skeletal structures?
Well, seeing we don’t have a whole series of fossils depicting this transformation, we either rely on reason, or discovery. Thinking that we’ll be able to find fossils which take us every logical step of the way from dino’s to birds is at best sophomoric. But lets not open that particular brand of shit. I’ve a better one to illustrate why the various sciences think the way they do about evolutures. (evolutures is a word I got from Ben Schultz and I think it may be original to him, it means simply, that which evolves).
Let me tell you a story, and then I’ll explain why this story is true.
Primitive hominids were forced out of the trees where they lived in Africa by continental drift. This is the slow and inevitable force which drives our geology and recycles out planet. As the African tectonic plate moved further and further north toward the European plate, the climate changed. Tree’s no longer grew close enough together to support hominid life in them, so those hominids that came out of the trees were favored for life because they changed. Change is the engine that drives evolution. Had they stayed in the trees, their environment would have changed and they would have died. Coming out of the trees and learning to live on the ground gave them an advantage, but also brought about even more change.
As the trees dwindled, the grasslands increased. Fossilized grasses were shown to be 2-5 foot high, so to survive in this new environment, primitive hominids needed to learn to walk upright or perhaps at first just be able to stand to get a look around else they could become easy prey for carnivores.
Another advantage in moving to the ground were the food choices. Roots and tubers grew in abundance. Water was easier to find, and meat was now on the menu. At first it was likely that they scavenged, but later as their dietary protein intake grew and they had more extra fuel, brains became larger. They were able to now use some rudimentary reasoning which likely they used to hunt in groups.
This is but one example of how The Theory of Evolution uses stories to put together the most likely hypothesis for the evolution of the hominid. Of course, what I’ve written above is very very basic, but you get the general point.
No amount of archaeology is going to dig up this story in fossil form, but a story will tie together the facts we do have with many things we’ve observed in the past and even today.
It’s using reason to extrapolate.
1. draw from specific cases for more general cases
2. estimate the value of
3. gain knowledge of (an area not known or experienced) by extrapolating