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Darwin’s theory of evolution has specific requirements in order for it to work. One of these requirements is that the entities that evolve (let us call them the evolvers) must reproduce their whole selves, and be capable of repeating the process indefinitely. Otherwise the logic of the theory does not work and it is not applicable to evolution.

Genes, species, populations, clades, hierarchies of such divisions and the theories associated with them do not fulfil this essential requirement.
Darwin chose to apply the theory to sexually reproducing organisms – creatures and plants – as the entities that evolve. But even these organisms do not comply with the essential requirement that they truly reproduce themselves.

Single cell asexually reproducing organisms, such as bacteria, do comply with the requirements. They reproduce by simply dividing into two copies of themselves.

Gametes in sexually reproducing species also comply. A gamete joins up with another gamete to create a body. This body not only produces more gametes but also provides them with many other services, such as nutrition, mobility and delivery to a place where they can meet other suitable gametes to continue the process of reproduction. The gametes are the evolvers. The body is a byproduct whose function is to produce and aid gametes. It does not reproduce itself. The germ cells in the ovary or testis produce gametes. All the other cells in the body can only reproduce themselves for a limited period of time, and they all ultimately die out. Only the gametes continue to reproduce indefinitely. They alone transmit the information for further reproduction.

We could refer to single cell organisms and gametes as ‘reproducing haploid cells’ or we might just as well refer to them all as gametes. They are conceptually similar, but with different methods of reproduction.

Ecosystems are mutually dependent combinations of the reproductive cycles of haploid cells (including gametes).
Sexual reproduction is a complex ecosystem created by gametes. One might describe the bodies that gametes create in their reproductive process as secluded ecosystems; as opposed to other ecosystems which could be described as nebulous ecosystems.
Ecosystems are clearly subject to selection by their environment and the haploid cells (gametes) comprising the ecosystems are inevitably affected and this influences their survival and reproductive success.
But, whether nebulous or secluded, selection of ecosystems can only influence evolution to the extent that it influences the selection of haploid cells (gametes). Those haploid cells that create the best ecosystems reproduce preferentially.

All this may seem at first to be a matter of semantics. But it is important because once we see this simple truth we can very easily explain and understand those aspects of evolution - such as the development of multicellular organisms, sex, altruism and sexual selection - which stand out as paradoxes in the current theories of evolution. And it alters our perception of ourselves; just as Galileo removed us from the centre of the universe, this concept removes us from central focus of life to a more peripheral role.

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