And The Unfit Shall Inherit The Earth

And The Unfit Shall Inherit The Earth

New scientific findings challenge the theory of evolution and could have massive impact for how we consider resource consumption and biodiversity in the future.

Stephen Fortune
  • 13 april 2011

For the most part, the theory of evolution is taken for granted as a sound scientific explanation of how life develops. Indeed, the major tenets of the theory beyond ‘survival of the fittest’ ( in any environment there will be a best species or best traits of a species, and over time they will dominate) are not well known; for instance Darwinism also holds that complex environments are needed to support diverse populations.

Intensive research with bacteria at University of Exeter have revealed startling results that problematize this theory: unexpected biodiversity in non-complex surroundings. The groundbreaking results have an interesting moral to impart: the key to this biodiversity lies in how the bacteria utilise resources (in their case, how they extract energy from food):

“When organisms are given abundant food, they use it inefficiently. The fit use food well but they aren’t resilient to mutations, whereas the less efficient, unfit consumers are maintained by their resilience to mutation. If there’s a low mutation rate, survival of the fittest rules, but if not, lots of diversity can be maintained.”

The means by which inefficient consumers prove more resilient to mutation and the possibility of biodiversity in the simplest of environments are incredibly important given how much Darwin rhetoric has found itself applied to areas (commerce, business) beyond biology. It will also doubtlessly have ramifications for how we theorise environmentally sustainable approaches

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