A non-argumentative question on evolution

Ok, I’d like a serious answer to the “woodpecker problem”.

“If the woodpecker devoloped a strong beak first, it would scramble its own brains with the force of its strike. If it developed its head support (whatever it is) first, it would have broken off its beak with the force of its strike.”

I do know that at least some biologists/paleontologists are drifting from the classic Darwinian/incremental evolution explanation, but is this not sort of a knife in the back of the theory? How does the classic Darwinian explain that one? For that matter, how does any evolutionist?


Seems pretty simple. The beak and the cranial structure did not appear in one fell swoop. Some protowoodpecker had a strong beak, which made it better able to get at tasty insects. Of its species, those with the most stable brain support could hit harder, so they were able to find more food than those that had to be more careful of their nervous systems. They reproduced more, so their traits were passed on.

Your mistake is in assuming that the traits of the modern woodpecker appeared full-formed after just one mutation. There were undoubtedly many hundreds or thousands of generations slowly exibiting stronger and stronger beaks and better and better protected brains.

Like everything else, it was a gradual evolution. Obviously, the weaker beaked/skulled protowoodpecker did not bash its head into a pulp in an attempt to be like a modern woodpecker. Other modern day birds do not try to mimic a woodpecker even though they see them successfully finding food.

Sounds like you are talking about punctuated equilibria. Even this is a gradual evolution in a sense. ‘Punctuated’ is not instantaneous, but instead, just a much more rapid rate than Darwin himself espoused. For P.E., species stay basically the same until there is some event that opens up a new niche and there is, compared to the geologic rate of sedimentation/fossilization, an apparent rapid change in a species to fill that new niche. But we’re still talking about lots of generations.