[Taxacom] Evolutionary "winning" taxa

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Wed Feb 4 21:33:56 CST 2009

Hi Jan-Erik,
       That is one viewpoint.  However, the authors of this paper
apparently view "evolutionary winners" as those which would give rise to
future taxa.  A majority of species do NOT even give rise to future
species (much less higher taxa).  The minor winners will produce more
species in a species group.  But only a tiny percentage will give rise
to higher taxa, and those are the ultimate "evolutionary winners" in the
long run.  There were probably not many mammal species that survived the
end-Cretaceous extinction event, and only some of those gave rise to all
the mammals living today (including us).                    
       Frankly, it's all contingent on how close we are to the next huge
bolide impact (ten years or ten million years?).  At the present time,
I'm doubtful the human species could long survive through something like
the end-Cretaceous event.  Our status as evolutionary winners would
disappear in a flash.  However, frogs buried below ground, in a frozen
hibernation state, could emerge years from now and feast on hordes of
insects still feeding on the remains of the disaster.   The most likely
mammal survivors would be rodents that likewise were in torpor in
burrows at the time.  If we eventually have self-sustaining populations
of humans on the moon or other planets, then that is a whole different
matter for our particular species (and any we take with us).  Only then
could we escape such historical contingencies that could devastate our
planet once again.  Given average odds, we will probably colonize other
planets in time, but who knows.           
       --------Ken Kinman
     I would regard all surviving species in a given moment as
evolutionary "winners" 
Jan-Erik Bergh 
At 17:08 2009-02-03, Kenneth Kinman wrote: 
>  Dear All, 
>         After reading an abstract for a paper appearing 
>in the February 2009 issue of American Naturalist ("Lower >Extinction 
>Risk in Sleep and Hide Mammals"), I started reading some >press
>and statements by some of the authors. I was rather >surprised and 
>disappointed by statements like:  Despite these results, >sleepers and 
>hiders shouldn't be viewed as evolutionary "winners", the >authors say. 
>         I haven't read the full article, but I certainly >hope that
>didn't say that in the article.  In the long run, sleepers >and hiders
>tend to be evolutionary winners, and it was a major factor >in 
>determining which land vertebrates survived the >end-Cretaceous 
>extinction event.  As I have said in the past, it's not >surprising
>made it through that extinction since various species can >go
>and enter extreme hibernation states for long periods.  Or 
>proto-tinamous surviving in their burrows and then giving >rise to all 
>the living ratites.  The meek did inherit the Earth at the >end of the 
>          ------Ken Kinman 

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