Office taxonomy and an increasingly diverse workplace ecosystem

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From the archive. First published in October 2015. It is perhaps the most common misconception of evolutionary theory that all animals are somehow evolving towards some end point – meaning us. This notion is perhaps best summed up when a sceptic asks: “If we have evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” The lesser of the two problems with this is its solipsistic assumption that humans are the pinnacles of life and that, if evolution were true, all species would eventually evolve into people.

The bigger (and related) issue is that the question overlooks the fact that each species is already pretty much perfectly adapted to whatever environmental niche it inhabits at any particular time. It is only when that niche changes that the organism has to adapt to its changing surroundings and conditions, which is why many species continue to thrive almost unchanged over thousands or even millions of years. They have no need to evolve into a human or anything else.

This is the reason there is so much diversity of life on Earth. Yet, precisely because we’re humans we prefer this level of complexity and uncertainty to be simplified into patterns and narrative concepts such as the tree of life and the Ascent of Man.

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