What Would Disprove Evolution?

For a change of pace, Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution Is True turns his attention to the issue of evolution. In a post titled "What would disprove evolution?," he observes: "If evolution is a scientific theory worth its salt, then there must be some conceivable observations that could show it to be wrong." True!

Two comments on Coyne's list. He writes, "Here are some of those conceivable observations:"

  • Fossils in the wrong place (e.g., mammals in the Devonian). If the fossil record were all out of order like this (a single anomalous fossil might not overturn everything, of course, since it could be in the wrong place for other reasons), we'd have to seriously question the occurrence of evolution.

Fossils are found in the "wrong place" all the time (either too early, or too late). Paleontological theory, however, allows for such devices as "ghost lineages" to repair the damage; see ENV's coverage here and here.

  • Complete discordance between phylogenies based on morphology/fossils and on DNA. While individual genes can show discordance by lateral transfer --
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