I’ve been occasionally following Richard Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment, but the methodology raises a certain question for me. Evolution is not observable in nature because of the long time frames involved. But like Lenski’s work, we can witness the evolution of e coli much faster.
Over some decades (let’s say 50 years), in the right laboratory conditions, we could conceivably observe well over a million generations of E. coli and billions of organisms.
Now, if we were able to witness a million generations of mammals, we’d conceivably witness some amazing feats of what evolution could achieve. If I understand correctly, echolocation in marine mammals developed over the span of a well under a million generations (~4 million years or so).
So, if the evolutionary process can achieve such marvels in the span of less than a million generations in mammals, with a far smaller population and thus fewer mutations to work with, why, exactly, do we not see unguided evolution achieving any remotely similar accomplishments over the same generational span in those organisms where we can observe them for over a million generations?
And a related question… how many generations of E. coli would we have to witness, with no significant increase in complexity (no new organelle or novel complex function) before we could legitimately say that the Darwinian evolutionary theory has been falsified? In other words, is the theory testable and falsifiable? and if so, over how many generations would we have to witness the organism remain essentially unchanged before we could say the theory has been falsified?