Author Topic: Convergent Evolution  (Read 1980 times)

Offline Wilko

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Convergent Evolution
« on: July 21, 2007, 02:34:39 AM »
From Wikipedia, "In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches." also, "Parallel evolution is the independent evolution of similar traits, starting from a similar ancestral condition due to similar environments or other evolutionary pressures"

For example, if we look at aquatic animals we find that at radically different times throughout history, reptiles, fish and mammals have all evolved fins for propulsion. Fins, regardless of the species, obviously confer a significant survival advantage in an aquatic environment. Trust me, I am going somewhere with this.

I believe convergent and parallel evolution can be used to reveal truths about the world around us. When I see people reaching similar conclusions from completely different and independent starting points, perhaps even at different times, I see convergent evolution in practice, and it makes me think that those people are describing something 'real' and 'true' about the world.

Forgive me for making some simplifications and taking some big liberties here however! Paleo and Atkins are broadly similar in actual practice, the big difference is in the underlying reason why we eat Paleo. Two different paths which arrived at what amounts to approximately the same conclusion; high protein, high fat, low carbs. I see convergent evolution at work here, and it makes me think that we are really getting at the truth of the matter.

I also see it at work here on this forum, there is a huge and largely disparate amount of information on diet and exercise, it is remarkable that any two widely read people would assimilate that information and draw the same conclusions.....and yet. In fact diet is one thing, we are drawn together by our appreciation of the Paleo WOE but exercise? We should reasonably expect to see recommendations for joint isolation exercises, 5 day weight training splits, 45 minute cardio sessions, but we don't.

As I read the forums I see people who have come to appreciate paleo consistently favouring the following concepts: Intensity, Rest, Compound, Sprint, Crossfit, Olympic. (As an aside I'm with the 21'st Century Caveman on this one, I think we should collectively refer to these concepts as 'Paleoactive' or 'Paleoactivity')

How interesting that so many of us have independently reached the same conclusions about exercise before meeting here. This is the convergent evolution of ideas at work and I think it means we are definitely on the right track, just like the recurring expression of a fin through different species.

Groovy man, groovy.

Offline 21st-century caveman

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Re: Convergent Evolution
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2007, 05:10:31 PM »
Interesting thoughts, Wilko, and I agree with you.  There does seem to be a multi-disciplinary convergence of ideas regarding paleolithic nutrition, functional physical training, etc..  Like you say, it looks like a lot of folks are coming to the same conclusions about how to achieve optimum health- from different angles. Take a look at this site, for example: 

A few quotes from their "General principles for functional training" page at -

Honor your evolutionary heritage. Train yourself for the fundamentals of walking, running, lifting and squatting. Build a better biped!

Emphasize function before cosmetics. If you train for functional movement you will eventually improve your performance and your appearance.

Honor the play ethic: play is the foundation for quality movement.

Be an opportunist: be alert for movement possibilites in daily life.

Be a good animal: exercise outdoors whenever possible and make yourself vulnerable to the elements.

The idea of "functional training" in physical activity is really taking off!  Pretty good principles to live by- sounds like Paleoactivity to me!   Combine this with paleolithic nutrition, and you're almost guaranteed to get healthier!  :)