(Mutation + Death) * Time = Elegance
Let loose some replicators, leave them to mutate and multiply for four billion years, and if you’re lucky you get a nice, complex biosphere. No magical sky pixies required. Evolution is so beautiful as a process not simply because it generates astounding forms of life, but because it has what physicists all crave in their equations: elegance. All that is required for evolution to work is a host of mutating replicators and lots of time… time to explore, blindly, the parameter space of Possible Ways of Not Being Dead.
In celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, Nature magazine presents – and Wired Science summarizes nicely – twelve examples of elegance in evolution, including “missing links” in the history of whales, the first vertebrates to walk on land, feathered dinosaurs, moray eels with Alien-style jaws, and modern evolutionary changes witnessed by biologists in real time. If you need some nice examples of how evolution really works, perhaps for your idiot brother-in-law or his equivalent, these 12 examples are great jumping-off points into the oceans of data supporting the blatant reality of biological evolution on Earth.
Image: Ted Daeschler / Nature