DR. JAMES ADAMS jadams at
Wed Sep 9 20:27:27 EDT 1998

Dear Listers,

          In response to Mark Walker's response to Doug Yanega:

Mark missed Doug's point, I believe.  Doug was not trying to suggest 
that by looking at the few species of insects that have lost wings we 
could find out the purpose for those species only.  Doug was trying to 
suggest that if you have some idea of what is different for those species that 
have lost wings, then this could give you some evidence as to why 
insects, including the 99.9% that had wings and still do, *do* have 

And I am a bit offended by the suggestion that anyone with a bit of 
intelligence should scoff at the suggestion that natural selection 
has led to complex structures such as wings.  I, and many other 
people who probably consider themselves to have at least a semblance 
of intelligence, consider an evolutionary (natural selective) 
mechanism to be the best explanation for the presence of wings.  
There are good examples of intermediate forms in both the fossil 
history of insects and birds, and these have been extensively 
discussed in a number of papers.  The discussion is too long to cover 
fully here, but the gist, as many of you know, is this.  The original 
"non-functional" or "half-functional" wings probably had a perfectly 
good use, such as thermoregulation, gliding, etc.  A few mutational 
steps could have modified the wings into something functional.  Do 
not take this to mean that I am suggesting that the process was in 
any way directed or simple.  Just remember that any structure that is 
in the slightest adaptive, giving even a small selective advantage 
would persist, and be able to be modified by the creative force that 
does exist -- mutation.  And this of course would not have occured 
"suddenly" either, as Mark suggests, turning a caterpillar into a 
butterfly.  Remember that we are talking about millions and millions 
of years here.

My two cents worth.  Fire away.


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