a reply to: intrptr
My point is that mutations don't necessarily create "higher" lifeforms. Mutations create a bunch of new possible traits, including helpful, harmful,
and seemingly neutral traits. The things that evolved from bacteria won't necessarily flourish in the original bacteria's environment.
Look at humans, for example. Pound for pound, we're far weaker and slower than most other primates. We can't climb as well, have weaker teeth/jaws,
can't jump as well, have flimsier bones, have no protective fur layer (well, most of us lol), etc. So is our evolution superior to a different
evolved branch of primates like chimpanzees or gorillas? The answer completely depends on the environment.
Take a random naked human and a random gorilla and place them in a gorilla's natural habitat. Which one will have the better chance of surviving? The
gorilla. Now reverse that scenario by putting them both in a human's natural habitat (human towns, etc) and the human will now be the clear winner.
Both species would be able to survive for a while in the other's natural habitat, but both would clearly be at a disadvantage. And without searching
for more hospitable conditions, both would likely die off.
That's how it works. If an animal is born with much thicker skin and a thicker layer of fat under the skin than its parents (aka a mutation), is it
superior to them or inferior? That completely depends on the environment. If they live in a very hot place, the one with the thicker skin may now be
at a disadvantage because of the threat of overheating. So it would either suffer or try to find cooler weather to feel more comfortable (or stay in
the water more, drink more to counteract the additional sweating, etc). But if they were in a colder environment, that thicker skinned one would
likely be at an advantage. Then again, the thicker skinned one may fair better in combat than its parents, so it may still be desirable enough to its
peers in the hot environment to reproduce there, even if it still had other disadvantages there.
Another example would be cute little bunny rabbits. Suppose a rabbit was born with a defective/improved growth rate. So it grows to 6 feet in length,
weighs a whopping 300 lbs, has long sharp claws, and is muscular as a bull. Is it superior to other rabbits or inferior? If it could still mate with
other rabbits, it would start passing down its genes and that could eventually lead to the birth of a new species.
In this case, its new size would stave off its natural predators, so that seems to be a bonus. But at that size, it would also require far more food,
which would be harmful for it since a rabbit's normal environment may not provide enough food for it. And even worse, 6 foot muscular rabbits w/sharp
claws would gain a new enemy (humans) who would likely kill them off since they'd be a clear threat (or food supply). If it stayed at its normal size,
it would've likely continued to survive.
If a mutation leads to a species going extinct, then it's not an upgrade.