Yesterday Scott Adams linked to an interesting article from Newsweek about human evolution. The conclusion they get to in the article is that humans didn't evolve linearly, instead lots of branches and sub species existed at the same time.
I don't understand why people find this surprising. You see it with all species in nature, be it fishes in Lake Victoria or sparrows on the Galapagos Islands. Evolution is not linear. I find it obvious that a random process will give results that diverge and spread out.
The article also suggests that by tracking specific genes in the DNA, we can find the last common ancestor to all living humans. It seems like they lived about 89,000 years ago and left Africa as recently as 66,000 years ago.
One of the last sentences in the articles says "It therefore suggests that we are still evolving.". Of course we are, who would ever think otherwise? I believe it's happening quite fast too, but with a completely different set of rules compared to back then. The definition of fitness for survival and reproduction in this modern world is nothing at all like surviving on the plains of Africa.
Scott Adams says "Fossils are Bullshit" and what he means is that the old rigid theory of evolution just doesn't feel right. I agree that the theory is far from complete and I think it's a common mistake by many scientists that when they find a proof for a particular thing within their current theory, they feel like they have to increase the scope of the theory to include things that are way beyond what they actually did prove.
Of course everyone want to make their theory more and more general and less complicated, but I think it's been proven over and over again that everything in the universe is more complicated than it looks at first glance.
A lot of times it seems like getting enough detailed information is the biggest hurdle. Often it feels like scientists spend too much time staring at the data they already have instead of thinking about new ways to find data that would shine a light on the problem from a different angle.
To use DNA in addition to the information they have from fossils and bones, like they did in the article, is a great example of finding such an additional source of data forcing them to adjust the current theory.
We should look at things from another angle more often.