Trump is devolution going backwards to a dark time in history Devolution, de-evolution, or backward evolution is the notion that species can revert into more "primitive" forms over time. In modern biology the term is meaningless: evolutionary science deals with selection or adaptation that results in populations of organisms genetically different from their ancestral forms, where evolution has no intrinsic directionality. The discipline makes no general distinction between changes leading to populations of forms less complex or more complex than their ancestors, and in such terms the concept of a primitive species cannot be defined. Current non-technical application of the concept of "devolution" is based largely on the fallacies that: in biology there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function, and that evolution must mean "progress" to "more advanced" organisms with more complex structure and function. Those errors in turn are related to two misconceptions: that: evolution is supposed to make species more "advanced", as opposed to "primitive"; and that modern species that have lost some of the functions or complexity of their ancestors must accordingly be degenerate forms. (Note however that degeneracy in this context has little to do with the current technical use of the term degeneracy in biology). The idea of de-evolution is based at least partly on the presumption that "evolution" requires some sort of purposeful direction towards "increasing complexity". Modern evolutionary theory, beginning with Darwin at least, poses no such presumption and the concept of evolutionary change is independent of either any increase in complexity of organisms sharing a gene pool, or any decrease, such as in vestigiality or in loss of genes. Earlier views that species are subject to "cultural decay", "drives to perfection", or "devolution" are practically meaningless in terms of current (neo-)Darwinian theory. Early scientific theories of transmutation of species such as Lamarckism and orthogenesis perceived species diversity as a result of a purposeful internal drive or tendency to form improved adaptations to the environment. In contrast, Darwinian evolution and its elaboration in the light of subsequent advances in biological research, have shown that adaptation through natural selection comes about when particular heritable attributes in a population happen to give a better chance of successful reproduction in the reigning environment than rival attributes do. By the same process less advantageous attributes are less "successful"; they decrease in frequency or are lost completely. Since Darwin's time it has been shown how these changes in the frequencies of attributes occur according to the mechanisms of genetics and the laws of inheritance originally investigated by Gregor Mendel. Combined with Darwin's original insights, genetic advances led to what has variously been called the modern evolutionary synthesis or neo-Darwinism. In these terms evolutionary adaptation may occur most obviously through the natural selection of particular alleles. Such alleles may be long established, or they may be new mutations. Selection also might arise from more complex epigenetic or other chromosomal changes, but the fundamental requirement is that any adaptive effect must be heritable. The concept of devolution on the other hand, requires that there be a preferred hierarchy of structure and function, and that evolution must mean "progress" to "more advanced" organisms. For example, it could be said that "feet are better than hooves" or "lungs are better than gills", so their development is "evolutionary" whereas change to an inferior or "less advanced" structure would be called "devolution".