Can organisms evolve the ability to evolve?
On the topic of evolution, one explanation for "creationists" as to why evolution exists is that organisms were designed to evolve the ability to evolve.
Here is an interesting thought...
"There's no mechanism in evolution to actively prepare for the future, which is what evolvability does."
Do you agree with the concept that organisms evolved the ability to evolve?
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In an essence I'd say we already have. Not like in the sense of willing yourself to change.
I'll never say never, but the biological barriers to this are huge.
The sense that I'm referring to is the ability to guide evolution, especially by selective pressure. Being cognitively aware that you are selecting for a trait is the ability to manipulate selective mutation.
In much the same way that natural selection selects for traits, humans are unwittingly (for some), guiding our evolution, or more directly and intentionally that of livestock and pets.
On the surface, no. The ability to evolve (as opposed to an inability to evolve at all) cannot evolve, as an organism unable to evolve obviously cannot evolve to gain said ability.
However, the question is not particularly useful; it is generally believed (in the scientific community) that life originated from self-replicating molecules (formed from collections of organic molecules using sunlight for energy); essentially a primitive form of RNA. This innately has the capacity to change under these circumstances; both because more than one compound may 'fit' the same part of the 'chain' when genetic material outside of a cell replicates, and due to factors that cause mutation even today ie. radiation. As such, the ability to evolve is believed to be present before anything we could call a life form by the current definition arose.
That said, while the ability to evolve (as opposed to an inability to do so) could not evolve, the ability to evolve (in the sense of being prone to mutate and evolve slower or quicker) certainly could be selected for. Within an established species under largely static conditions, I would expect a slower evolution/mutation rate to be favored given the proportion of mutations that are non-beneficial or even fatal. On the other hand, within a species that is relatively new to the biome, and particularly when conditions within said biome are changing regularly, I would expect a faster evolution/mutation rate to be favored.
In a nutshell, selective pressure can favor an organisms ability to evolve slower or faster, but the ability to evolve at all cannot evolve; if it did, it was already there in the prior generation.