Evolution: shouldn't Eskimos grow fur?


RoseAnn, Thanks for a few more laughs! Just as you find what Evolutionists state is amusing, As one who believes in the word of science, I am in turn amused by your article. I did not see the PBS story. However, common sense allows me to understand what the show was about. Today, we have salamanders and frogs which live primarily on land, but lay their unprotected cluster of eggs in the water. Not hard to see that some of these amphibians developed the trait of covering their eggs in a shell. It will be argued that there is no evidence that present day amphibians are not evolving. Evolution acts slowly in many species well adapted to one environment, however there are many species of seemingly related amphibious species. However, how can the proof of selection exhibited in the domestic dog be ignored. Genetic evidence, assuming you believe in that, shows that all domestic dogs are the descendant of the wild Grey Wolf. Why then are their so many types of dogs. Great Danes vs Chihuahuas? Is the answer God? No, artificial selection by man, yes. Because it is artificial selection, many of the traits are actually negative. The predatory perfection of the wolf was altered by man to serve man's needs, not to serve the survival needs of the dog. The Wolf is the product of natural Darwinian selection or the survival of the fittest. The Cocker Spaniel is not. Is this too hard to see or comprehend?

None of the above addressed the issues the article laid out. None of the above, for example, said why no human being has ever grown as rich a coat of fur as, say, a polar bear, or the Alaskan moose. Nor does even the Inuit have as much natural adipose insulation as has, say, his favorite staple, the walrus.

About those dogs: ask yourself this. How could even man artificially select all those traits so quickly? Particularly if you say natural selection occurs slowly?

Contradictions do not exist. Check your premises. One of them is false. And we all know which one.

One thing last of all: just what do you mean by "the word of science"? Do you really want to lend credence to the charge, by Mrs. Salanitri, Mr. Lally, our other fellow Directors, and myself, alleging that what you call "science" depends on a chosen committee of hegemony that dares tell the world what is scientific and what is not?

This article is incredibly ignorant. I'm only commenting on one of the many silly points made here: The Eskimos wear the hides of furry animals and have been for many centuries! There would be no reproductive fitness advantage for hairy individuals. Anyone, even hairless Eskimos, would be able to reproduce because they are able to overcome the problem of cold weather by covering themselves with the fur and skins of indigenous animals!
Please open a textbook.

Why do the Inuit wear the hides of furry animals? For that matter, why are human beings the only ones who do this?

Why would no reproductive fitness obtain for human beings growing fur in that environment?

I did open a textbook. It's incomplete. It doesn't answer those questions.

Can you?

To answer your question regarding Eskimos and fur.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the actual way evolution works would know that beneficial traits are the ones selected for, not what one would THINK would be beneficial. In the case of people who live in very cold locations, two things have to be considered.
1) Humans generally do not find excessive hairyness attractive. Therefore there is no mating benefit, and likely a detriment to have excessive body hair.
2) With technology (buildings, clothing, etc) the risk of dying from the cold is extremely low and generally requires stupidity, therefore the possible advantage gained by fur is nullified by the fact that it is not needed. We wont find hairier eskimos surviving the cold winters their bare counterparts perish in.

Second note - to Terry Hurlbut - Are you actually denying that mankind has selectively bred dogs and other animals, changing their shapes and creating various breeds? Are you denying that we have created the dog breeds and stating instead that they were all created as they are now by god?
" How could even man artificially select all those traits so quickly? Particularly if you say natural selection occurs slowly?" - Artificial natural.... selective breeding natural selection... What you said is like saying 'its impossible to dig a hole that fast, look at how long it takes a river to wear a channel!'

Can you answer these questions under the terms of the Grand Evolutionary Paradigm:

  1. Why do human beings not find abundant body hair attractive? In fact, I remember a movement during the Nineteen Seventies among women who wanted to abandon leg shaving because they were tired of doing things to please men. (And for that matter, why don't you tell me why women never lost their ability to grow hair on their legs.)
  2. Why did human beings, unique among the animals, develop technology? Why did they even feel the need? Have you or any of your sources a clue to those selection pressures you invoke?

Now about those dog breeds: I don't deny those breeds. I cite them as utterly falsifying a central tenet of animal evolution: that it takes time. Lots of time.

In reply:
A: Our society teaches us that body hair is unattractive, possibly in part to sell hair removal products. I personally find shaving to be preferable as it makes grooming easier. And answer me this - what would cause women to lose leg hair? How would leg hair cause women to die before having kids, or prevent them from having kids during their life? Nothing, therefore from a natural selection/evolutionary viewpoint its moot, there is no driver to change it. Just like there is no driver for people in cold environs to grow fur - we have clothes and warm buildings so it wouldnt matter.
B: Fingers. There are other smart animals, dolphins, crows, ravens. Crows are capable of solving multi-step puzzles using tools. Lets say there was a crow or a dolphin twice as smart as you - could it build a spear? or a house? They dont have hands, so even with the brains they dont have the means for detailed crafting.
There is a hypothesis that the discovery of fire gave neolithic man the leap forward we needed to develop intelligence superior to that of the apes who branched off of our mutual ancestors (to simplify a bit). Apes chew for approx 5 hours a day, raw meat for example is particularly hard to chew. They have to spend much of their time getting and eating food. When cavemen got fire, cooked food is easier to digest and also gives more nutrition, therefore the cavemen had a lot more time on their hands (and better nutrition to build brain mass) to think and work on tools and build society. And it still took many many thousands of years before they got to anything resembling technology. Give apes fire, and once they learn to control it, they could possibly after a long period of time follow our footsteps.

Dog breeding - again, selective breeding is WAY different than natural selection, it is orders of magnitude faster.
Natural selection - lets say there is an area with dogs where little dogs are more likely to get eaten by predators than big dogs. A higher percentage of big dogs will survive to mate than little dogs, but some little dogs are still there. The natural variation will slowly favor larger dogs, but there will still be a mix of parents of different sizes, even if the smallest 10% usually dont make it. Taking out a few big dogs and a bunch of little dogs will only raise the average size a bit.
Selective breeding - Take only the largest dogs from your sample, like top 5%. Breed them, cull anything below the average size and keep breeding, or maybe take the top 5% again if you have a large enough group. You are already starting with your first generation being in the top 5% of size, lets call that 95% compared to a group of wild dogs where if you lose a bunch of the smaller ones the overall average size only shifts a few percentage points up, maybe to 55%. That's only first generation, each generation selective breeding can widen the gap.
That's why we can breed animals and change them 1000 - 10,000 X faster than natural selection would. So 100 years to breed a certain breed of dog can equal what might possibly happen with evolution over 1,000,000 years.

And another point on the eskimo fur thing - it has to affect passing on genes, which is why house cats in siberia wont evolve extra fur, but WILD cats in siberia would.
BTW, change in animal populations could be through natural variation (a litter of puppies, some will be larger, some will be smaller, there is always that small variation) that slowly adds up. If you have dogs and some go where smaller dogs have the advantage and survive better, and some go to an area where big ones survive better, after many many generations the two groups will start looking rather different. The other method is through mutations - I have read that the average human has about 100 mutations, however 99%+ of them are not noticeable or effect no real difference. However, sometimes you get one that does. hypertrichosis for example that makes people look like werewolves. That is a mutation, that passes down genetically from parents to children. So a random mutation like that could end up creating a group of people who are all covered in fur and its an example of how what would be considered a big step in evolution that can happen quickly and in one step.
The first kind of lung-fish that could breathe air may have been a mutation that passed it on to its offspring and using it as an advantage they multiplied and became a new branch of the tree of life - which can then seed other branches via mutation or natural selection of variation.