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Mark Siddall mes at zoo.toronto.edu
Thu Dec 29 13:57:28 EST 1994

There seems to be a number of threads in this discussion.  I wish to deal 
with but one.

Q: Can a virulent parasite be considered well adapted?
The answer is a tautology.  Adaptationist scenarios are hard to place
in a seriously scientific framework.  Essentially if something exists
(i.e., is extant) it is well adapted.  Were it not it would not be 
extant.  Thus is somthing is extant and is virulent it is a well
adapted virulent parasite.  
I would beware of overly neo-Darwinian speculation that veers to the
metaphysical rather than rigourously testable.  There is no explanatory
power in the statement that a virulent parasite is well adapted to
being virulent.  No more than saying terrestrial critters are
well adapted to living on land.  Of course they are, otherwise they


Mark E. Siddall                "I don't mind a parasite...
mes at vims.edu                    I object to a cut-rate one" 
Virginia Inst. Marine Sci.                     - Rick
Gloucester Point, VA, 23062

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