It’s the diagram of evolution we’re all familiar with, beginning with an ape figure which gradually turns into an upright human, but the famous depiction of the history of man should be erased from the record of everything, according to an expert.
Dr Adam Rutherford, a geneticist at University College London, said the diagram depicts wronger information about evolution than anything else, and he claims it should be removed from biology books.
Talking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, he maintained the picture of a series of men starting with a monkey who gradually got more upright to a white person with a beard was damaging for understanding the science of evolution.
He added that it indicates a directional elegance and intelligence and that it was from a textbook in 1965, and if he had one wish he would erase it from the record of everything.
The original picture, named The Road to Homo Sapiens, starts with Pliopithecus, a 22 million-year-old ancestor of the gibbon family, and it portrays 14 other primate figures, concluding with the modern man – a simplified version is also extensively circulated.
Dr Rutherford said the picture points to the notion that evolution has a direction, and it infers that there are ape-like ancestors that start to walk upright and eventually become us and it goes in a very nice, neat line.
He said that this isn’t how evolution works at all and that we evolve to occupy whatever environmental niche we’re in at that time, and that we could quite easily in the future evolve into a different shape or back to being quadrupedal, walking on all fours, and that was just how evolution worked, and the belief that evolution improves wasn’t correct.
He said that all organisms, from a human on the plains of Africa to a small insect, have adapted to survive in their environment, and that it was a real human, hubristic point of view, that we think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution.
Dr Rutherford said the fact the diagram was still broadly circulated wasn’t the biggest crime in the world, but it’s misinformation, and that it also implies we know the route of evolution, and he continued that aside from the relationship between Neanderthals and us, which is that they were our ancestors, we don’t really know what our ancestors were.
But does it matter? We are what we are and have become what we have become, but could he be right because when you think about it, the famous sequence diagram is far too simplistic, and perhaps the truth is far more complicated than scientists used to believe.
But then perhaps it’s supposed to be simplistic so that the average person understands the basics of evolution, and as for evolving in their own environment, it just makes common sense, you see it all the time in nature.
And Dr Rutherford might be right about the image, so perhaps he should come up with his own illustrations, and there might be all sorts of things wrong with the theory because at the end of the day it’s just Pandora’s box.
This is just a massively simplified depiction of evolution, and the picture is just making a simple point and nothing more, but shouldn’t we be living in the here and now and not in the past, and should we not be more concerned about today and the future of humanity?
Theory is the hypothesis based upon the simplicity of the topic under debate, and that’s why scientists are always seeking more supportive evolution, and so yes, many generally believe theories are full of flaws.