Audio-book Review
 By Chet Yarbrough

Blog: awalkingdelight)

The Story of Evolution in 25 Discoveries

By: Donald R. Prothero

Narrated by: Tom Parks

Donald Prothero (Author, Amerivcan geologist, paleongologist,)

Donald Prothero provides a mountain of evidence informing the skeptical of the truth of evolution. Prothero explains evolution is a random and bushy process requiring time, heat, and a few basic chemicals to produce life. On the one hand, that makes life probable somewhere else in the universe. On the other hand, it implies human beings may be as ephemeral as dinosaurs, and dodo birds.

Prothero’s name makes one think of the Greek god, Prometheus, the creator of fire and mortals.

From the primordial soup of four or five billion years ago, the chemicals of life combine to create a self-reproducing cell. Within that cell, the genetic material of life is formed. As time passes, these cells combine to form life that adapts to its environment. This adaptation is the definition of evolution.

Prothero explains evolutionary adaptation both resists change, and commands change.

He gives the example of Giraffes that grow long necks but retain a nerve fiber that is longer and poorly located for its purpose. In battles for female attention, the evolutionary change of longer necks increases dominance of an evolved Giraffe over other male Giraffes with shorter necks. Though neck length improves procreation potential, the adaptive failure of the nerve fiber makes a long-necked Giraffe more vulnerable to injury. In a sense, evolution is an arbitrary process that often leaves useless remnants of body parts that do not serve a purpose and may hasten extinction.

What comes to mind as one listens to Prothero is that human beings are still evolving. Whether evolution will ensure survival or hasten extinction is unknown.

How are the human brain and body evolving? This is particularly important with a growing understanding of DNA and sciences’ ability to change DNA in a human subject. Is knowledge of DNA modification a function of evolution or revolution? Evolution has historically been a long-term process that may be less long term in the modern age.

What about Artificial Intelligence? Will A.I. become a part of human evolution? Is A.I. the next stage of human evolution or its replacement?

Prothero notes evolution is a bushy process meaning that variations of living organisms remain alive at the same time. Like whales, elephants, giraffes, and humans there are different evolutionary examples within species. Will there be humans that become a part of A.I. existence and others who will be exclusively human? Will one form of human become dominant? Prothero’s point is that evolution is not a linear process. There is no missing link that shows man evolving from apes. There is only one tree of life showing bushy branches with similar genetic material. Prothero notes 99.99 percent of human’s genetic make-up is the same. Chimpanzees are 98.8 percent similar, cats 90%, and honeybees 44%.

The close association of human DNA with chimpanzees shows who’s bushy tree to which we belong.

As Prothero notes, nature’s evolutionary change is not moral. Evolution is change based on nature’s random selection. Prothero suggests natural selection is a two-way street. Humans may have come from the sea, but whales are likely to have come from the land.

Homo Sapien image 100,000 years ago.

Prothero suggests humans have not changed much in the last thousand years. Memes have changed but little physical changes are evident. When human genetic manipulation takes control, morality becomes a human decision. With A.I., who knows where or how moral decisions will be made?

Author: chet8757

Graduate Oregon State University and Northern Illinois University, Former City Manager, Corporate Vice President, General Contractor, Non-Profit Project Manager, occasional free lance writer and photographer for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

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