Since I often read/hear incorrect perceptions of evolution which often causes people to misunderstand it. Giving evolution a goal, or an end result is a quick way to misunderstanding.
A very good way to think of evolution is “fitness peaks”. The best
way of explaining this is that an organism (or a cell, or a protein, or
even a molecule) has a certain amount of fitness in its environment. As a
change occurs in the organism or structure, the placement on the
fitness :landscape: will change. Imagine a plain, stretching out
forever, and in this plain there are small bumps, hills, and a few
mountains. Each of these hills and mountains represents a relatively
higher amount of fitness compared to the flat plain. In an environment
of water, an organism with fins will be at a hill or mountain, where as
an organism with stumpy legs will probably be in a valley.
Evolution is driven, remember, by mutations, and mutations, in most
aspects, are random. They are caused by radiation, and environmental
influences, and sometimes simply just happen due to chance. Since this
is random, we can imagine that our organisms, while undergoing certain
mutations bounce and skip around this landscape. Sometimes they will go
down hill, sometimes they will go up hill, but the ones that are uphill
will usually have offspring that are close to the hill, and thus hills
will most likely always be populated. However, once in a while, an
organism can live in a valley (although perhaps difficult), but from the
valley, new hills and mountains can be reached. And so evolution
progresses. Humans, with brains, thumbs, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth
(amongst other amazing features) are on a mountain. A very, very high
The thing with these fitness landscapes, however, is that the
environment creates hills and valleys. So what was once a mountain (fins
in an ocean) can turn into a valley, if say a lake dries up. Fitness
landscapes also change in the predator-prey (and subsequently
parasite/host + synergistic relationships). A cougar that suddenly gains
great night vision will cause the deer’s relative hill to become a
To make evolution more difficult, some organism mutate faster than
others (for various reasons, some unexplainable). This puts a whole new
spin on evolution – there is the possibility to gain the ability to
change (subsequently evolve) more often – this can also cause a fitness
landscape to be volatile, creating scenarios where there are no
mountains or deep gullies, but nearly all foreseeable changes do little
in the way of evolution.
I hope this helps understand evolution a bit more.
Real evolution has no end, no goal. The fact that we see “survival of
the fittest” does not mean that changes in the genome tend to be more
beneficial to organisms, statistically speaking, I’ll assume that it is
quite the opposite.
At any rate, please view evolution objectively. There is no “line” of
evolution – there is no thing that evolution tends to go to. Rather, it
is survival, which is correlated, but not connected, that has a
tendency to choose directions.
[[This post was slightly off the main vibe of my site, but it is one of my pet-peeves.]] Have fun out there!