John Davison has many interesting things to say about the recognition that evolution is over. Here are two from his essay, An Evolutionary Manifesto (not to be confused with “ ‘the’ Evolutionary Manifesto”, an entirely different, and later, document). Davison writes:
In 1942, Julian Huxley wrote Evolution: The Modern Synthesis in which he summarized a consensus among certain geneticists, systematists, and paleontologists that evolution was a Darwinian phenomenon, guided by chance and natural selection… Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the text is the revealing and totally contradictory summary that Huxley offers on page 571, seven pages from the end.
“Evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys. Some are extremely short — those leading to new genera and species that either remain stable or become extinct. Others are longer — the lines of adaptive isolation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their terminal blank wall. Others are still longer — the links that in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions of years. But all in the long run have terminated blindly. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic [before 65 million years ago]. For arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the full stop seems to have come in the early Cenozoic. [Early Cenozoic means Paleocene, between 65 and 56 million years ago.] Even the ants and bees have made no advance since the Oligocene. [The Oligocene is part of the Cenozoic, 56-34 million years ago.] For the birds, the Miocene [23 to 5.3 million years ago] marked the end; for the mammals the Pliocene [5.3-2.6 million years ago, or so].”
Darwin famously ended his Origin of Species with these words:
…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
But here is Huxley, Darwin’s admirer, admitting nearly 80 years ago, that the evidence is against ongoing evolution.
Davison continues his argument, quoting paleontologist Robert Broom who wrote a book called Finding the Missing Link, (1951) in which, on page 107, he had this to say about the Eocene, a geologic period now assigned to the time between 34 and 56 million years ago:
In Eocene times — say between 50,000,000 and 30,000,000 years ago — small primitive mammals rather suddenly gave rise to over a dozen very different Orders — hoofed animals, odd-toed and even-toed, elephants, carnivores, whales, rodents, bats and monkeys. And after this there were no more Orders of mammals ever evolved. There were great varieties of evolution in the Orders that had appeared, but strangely enough Nature seemed incapable of forming any more new Orders. What is equally remarkable, no new types of birds appear to have evolved in the last 30,000,000 years. And most remarkable of all, no new family of plants appears to have evolved since the Eocene. All major evolution has apparently come to an end. No new types of fishes, no groups of molluscs, or worms or starfishes, no new groups even of insects, appear to have been evolved in these latter 30,000,000 years.
New species of mammals continued to be produced for a while, ending with some primate types and finally ourselves.
Since then, nothing. It’s over.