There is a popular idea that evolution can reverse. TV and movies use this a lot. For example, in the "Mario Bros." movie, the villain turned humans into chimpanzees.

This isn't true, and the Theory of Evolution doesn't say it is true.

To be more specific: yes, you may contain some vestigial genetic information from your ancestors. But you don't contain all of it. You are not "your ancestor plus some extra stuff". Even if genetics did work that way, you've had a lot of ancestors down through the years. There isn't room in your DNA to record them all.

Now, it is theoretically possible to have a mutation which exactly removes a previous mutation, and restores the exact original state of things. But it's unlikely, given that nothing in the genetic mechanism "knows" history. Unlike computer files, DNA does not have time stamps. A whole series of "reverse" mutations is really, really unlikely.

Last modified: 29 January 1998

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