A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Francis Galton  Stephen Jay Gould  Pierre Grasse  

Previous Page

Pierre Grasse  (1895 - 1985)  Editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie" Chair of Evolution at Sorbonne University  Web  GBS

Any living thing possesses an enormous amount of 'intelligence'... Today, this 'intelligence' is called 'information,' but it is still the same thing... This 'intelligence' is the sine qua non of life. If absent, no living being is imaginable. Where does it come from? This is a problem which concerns both biologists and philosophers, and, at present, science seems incapable of solving it.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.2

Zoologists and botanists are nearly unanimous in considering evolution as a fact and not a hypothesis. I agree with this position and base it primarily on documents provided by paleontology, i.e., the history of the living world.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.3

Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms. A knowledge of paleontology is, therefore, a prerequisite; only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms. Neither the examination of present beings, nor imagination, nor theories can serve as a substitute for paleontological documents. If they ignore them, biologists, the philosophers of nature, indulge in numerous commentaries and can only come up with hypotheses. That is why we constantly have recourse to paleontology, the only true science of evolution. From it we learn how to interpret present occurrences cautiously; it reveals that certain hypotheses considered certainties by their authors are in fact questionable or even illegitimate.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.4

Present-day ultra-Darwinism, which is so sure of itself, impresses incompletely informed biologists, misleads them, and inspires fallacious interpretations. … For millions or even billions of years, bacteria have not transgressed the structural frame within which they have always fluctuated and still do. It is a fact that microbiologists can see in their cultures species of bacteria oscillating around an intermediate form, but this does not mean that two phenomena, which are quite distinct, should be confused; the variation of the genetic code because of a DNA copy error, and evolution. To vary and to evolve are two different things; this can never be sufficiently emphasized ... Bacteria, which are both the first and the most simple living beings to have appeared, are excellent subject material for genetic and biochemical study, but they are of little evolutionary value.

Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded extrapolations, a pseudoscience has been created. It is taking root in the very heart of biology and is leading astray many biochemists and biologists, who sincerely believe that the accuracy of fundamental concepts has been demonstrated, which is not the case.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.6

Biochemists and biologists who adhere blindly to the Darwinism theory search for results that will be in agreement with their theories and consequently orient their research in a given direction ... This intrusion of theories has unfortunate results: it deprives observations and experiments of their objectivity, makes them biased, and, moreover, creates false problems. ... Assuming that the Darwinian hypothesis is correct, they interpret fossil data according to it; it is only logical that they should confirm it: the premises imply the conclusions. The error in method is obvious.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.7

Today, our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon which keeps rapidly unfolding before us. Biologists must be encouraged to think about the weaknesses of the interpretations and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths. The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs.

It is true that, with regard to evolution, it is not easy to have access to reality; the past does not lend itself easily to our research, and experiments do not have any hold over it.    Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.8

It follows that any explanation of the mechanism in creative evolution of the fundamental structural plans is heavily burdened with hypotheses. This should appear as an epigraph to every book on evolution. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formation of pure conjectures as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.31

In his theoretical discussion, Simpson does not linger over the structure of the hoof; yet it is the result of a very innovative and precise evolution. Such a hoof, which is fitted to the limb like a die protecting the third phalanx, can without rubber or springs buffer impacts which sometimes exceed one ton. It could not have formed by mere chance: a close examination of the structure of the hoof reveals that it is a storehouse of coaptations and of organic novelties. The horny wall, by its vertical keratophyl laminae, is fused with the podophyl laminae of the keratogenous layer. The respective lengths of the bones, their mode of articulation, the curves and shapes of the articular surfaces, the structure of bones (orientation, arrangement of the bony layers), the presence of ligaments, tendons sliding with sheaths, buffer cushions, navicular bone, synovial membranes with their serous lubricating liquid, all imply a continuity in the construction which random events, necessarily chaotic and incomplete, could not have produced and maintained. This description does not go into the detail of the ultrastructure where the adaptations are even more remarkable.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.51

Evolution has not only slowed down, but with the aging of the biosphere, it has also decreased in scope and in extent. We are certain that it does not operate today as it did in the remote past. Something has changed. It is of the utmost importance to determine what has changed; this should shed light upon the internal mechanisms of the phenomena. The structural plans no longer undergo complete reorganization; novelties are no longer plentiful. Evolution, after its last enormous effort to form the mammalian orders and man, seems to be out of breath and drowsing off.    Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.71

Bacteria, the study of which has formed a great part of the foundation of genetics and molecular biology, are the organisms which, because of their huge numbers, produce the most mutants. This is why they gave rise to an infinite variety of species, called strains, which can be revealed by breeding or tests. Like Erophila verna, bacteria, despite their great production of intraspecific varieties, exhibit a great fidelity to their species. The bacillus Escherichia coli, whose mutants have been studied very carefully, is the best example. The reader will agree that it is surprising, to say the least, to want to prove evolution and to discover its mechanisms and then to choose as a material for this study a being which practically stabilized a billion years ago!

What is the use of their unceasing mutations, if they do not change? In sum, the mutations of bacteria and viruses are merely hereditary fluctuations around a median position; a swing to the right, a swing to the left, but no final evolutionary effect.

Cockroaches, which are one of the most venerable living relict groups, have remained more or less unchanged since the Permian, yet they have undergone as many mutations as Drosophila, a Tertiary insect.

It is important to note that relict species mutate as much as others do, but do not evolve, not even when they live in conditions favorable to change (diversity of environments, cosmopolitianism, large populations).

How does the Darwinian mutational interpretation of evolution account for the fact that the species that have been the most stable-some of them for the last hundreds of millions of years have mutated as much as the others do? Once one has noticed microvariations (on the one hand) and specific stability (on the other), it seems very difficult to conclude that the former (microvariation) comes into play in the evolutionary process.

Some contemporary biologists, as soon as they observe a mutation, talk about evolution. They are implicitly supporting the following syllogism: mutations are the only evolutionary variations, all living beings undergo mutations, therefore all living beings evolve.

This logical scheme is, however, unacceptable: first, because its major premise is neither obvious nor general; second, because its conclusion does not agree with the facts. No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.87-8

Although everything is not as it should be, the living world is not at all chaotic and life results from a very well-defined order.

As soon as some disorder, even slight, appears in an organized being, sickness, then death follow. There is no possible compromise between the phenomenon of life and anarchy.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.98

The opportune appearance of mutations permitting animals and plants to meet their needs seems hard to believe. Yet the Darwinian theory is even more demanding: a single plant, a single animal would require thousands and thousands of lucky, appropriate events. Thus, miracles would become the rule: events with an infinitesimal probability could not fail to occur.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.103

There is no law against day dreaming, but science must not indulge in it.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.104

We fully understand Darwin's fears and wonder what they would have been, had he been confronted with the anatomical and cytological complexity that is revealed by modern biology; he would have been even more worried had he known that selection cannot create anything on its own. ... But we note that he does not overcome any of the obstacles raised against his doctrine by “reality."     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.104-5

If one considers the great number of simultaneous, timely mutations satisfying existing needs involved in their genesis, one can not fail to be confounded by so much harmony, so many lucky coincidences, due entirely to omnipotent chance.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.105

Moreover, during phylogenetic organogenesis, natural selection must be capable of foresight. Isn't "choosing" its prime function? But the choice cannot take place without predicting the future role of the incipient organ. Without such prescience, the coordination of successive states is incomprehensible. Did Darwin take this into consideration?     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.106

We repeatedly hear that chance is all-powerful. Statements are insufficient. Evidence must be produced. I do not consider the spontaneous appearance of resistance to an antibiotic in a nonresistant population of bacteria as evidence. Neither structures nor fundamental functions are involved here. This is so true that variations of this kind, although repeated millions of times, have left bacteria practically unchanged.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.107

Let us not confuse creative evolution with variations in the composition of a population through circumstances. They are two distinct things, and any attempt to connect them is purely specious.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.111

The lynx feeds on hares and is a fierce predator; both high and low figures apply to both populations, the hunter and the hunted. The struggle is unremitting, as the statistics prove. The evolutionary effect is nonexistent. Morphologically and physiologically, both hare and lynx remain unchanged.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.118

The genic differences noted between separate populations of the same species that are so often presented as evidence of ongoing evolution are, above all, a case of the adjustment of a population to its habitat and of the effects of genetic drift. The fruitfly (drosophila melanogaster), the favorite pet insect of the geneticists, whose geographical, biotropical, urban, and rural genotypes are now known inside out, seems not to have changed since the remotest times.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.130

What scientist would venture to estimate the chances of such a cascade, such an avalanche, of coordinated and mutually adjusted chance occurrences? The odds are infinitesimal.

Please remember, too, that the case of the ant lion is not at all an exceptional one, chosen to support a thesis; such an accumulation of adaptations and coaptations is the rule.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.163

Natural selection working for the continuance and welfare of animals, plants, and man himself, is seen to be the grand law which organizes the living universe. So the Darwinians, who fancied they had exorcized finalism and transcendency but forgot to analyze critically the idea of natural selection, failed to see its implications or metaphysical consequences. They thought they were absolved from giving any finalization or deistic interpretation by decreeing that on earth all is but deceptive appearances; finality is a sham, guided evolution illusory. How is it possible to understand such an attitude? We cannot pretend that nature (with a capital or a small "n") copies man, the latest of its creations. So we are forced to admit, according to the Darwinian view, that nature acts blindly, unintelligently, but by an infinitely benevolent good fortune builds mechanisms so intricate that we have not even finished with analysis of their structure and have not the slightest insight of the physical principles and functioning of some of them.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.168

But according to Darwinian doctrine and Crick's central dogma, DNA is not only the depository and distributor of the information but its sole creator. I do not believe this to be true.

Left to itself, DNA undergoes, during its replications in the germinal cells, the mutations so often referred to in the body of this book. But error modifies what already exists, it does not create it.

A library does not fabricate information, it receives it from without, classifies and stores it. The medieval copyists made mistakes that altered, vitiated the texts they were supposed to reproduce. Who dares assert that their errors are the work itself?     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.224

Perhaps in this area biology can go no farther: the rest is metaphysics.     Evolution of Living Organisms  (1977)  p.246

See also: Stephen Jones


William Gregory  Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at Columbia University  Web  GBS

For this book does not pretend to tell how to improve one's face but only how and why one has one.

At best then it can only hold a magic mirror up to proud man and bid him contemplate his own image -- a composite of an infinitely receding series of faces,  -- human, prehuman, anthropoid, long-snouted, lizard-like, -- stretching back into the shadows of endless time.    Our Face From Fish to Man  (1929)  p.ix

If, however, the fossil lower jaw found at Piltdown, England, belongs with the human Piltdown skull, as nearly all authorities now believe, it affords a clear case of an ape-like canine belonging in a human jaw.    Our Face From Fish to Man  (1929)  p.141

Statistics "Indeterminism" proves;
All her equations bear a hidden X,
The Lady Luck of gamesters. Chance into Law,
And Fate's kaleidoscopes new patterns throw.
Ifs become whens and seeming wonders happen.
    Evolution Emerging v.1  (1951)  p.15   

In course of time, Smith Woodward's reconstruction of the Piltdown skull fragments was most critically and closely studied by many other scientists, including Keith, Elliot Smith, Pycraft, Gerrit S. Miller, McGregor and others. To make a long story unduly short, in the original reconstruction the midline was probably not exactly identified, the forehead was too low and the braincast too small. All this was corrected in subsequent reconstructions by McGregor and others.    Evolution Emerging v.1  (1951)  p.497

And so the cosmic kaleidoscope keeps tuning round and round, slowly but endlessly dissolving old combinations while creating new patterns, new values, new opportunities.    Evolution Emerging v.1  (1951)  p.559

Next Page

Francis Galton  Stephen Jay Gould  Pierre Grasse  

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Home  Evolution  Stephen Jones