Evolution doesn’t give organisms what they need

The Logic of Science

beaver natural selection doesn't give organisms what they need evolution Natural selection can only act on the genetic materials that are available to it, and this rarely results in the trait that is actually needed. Image via Berkley.edu

When I am teaching evolution, I often like to ask my students to think about why a particular feature or trait evolved. I might, for example, ask them why flying squirrels evolved a flap of skin between their legs that allows them to glide between trees, and when I ask questions like this, I frequently get responses along the lines of, “they needed that trait.” This is a very common misconception about evolution. Although most people realize that there isn’t a conscious entity controlling evolution, they nevertheless think that natural selection provides organisms with the traits that they need. This misconception can even lead to fallacious arguments such as, “if evolution is true, why hasn’t a perfect organism evolved?” The reality is…

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