Are stasis and evolution compatible?
If humans evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?
The question "if humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" is often presented as a sort of parody of Darwin doubters' questioning of evolution theory, but the question is really not as frivolous as it appears at first sight. To create humans while leaving monkeys unchanged for millions of years, genes must possess two mutually contradictory characteristics: the great stability that would result in stasis and the great volatility that would result in evolution. As one blogger said,
Wonderful thing, evolution -- if you want change, you get change, if you want stasis, you get stasis, and evolution wins every time either way! It’s called unfalsifiability, and it applies to all aspects of evolutionism.
The issue of stasis was emphasized in a speech by chairman Don McLeroy at a meeting of the Texas board of education. He said, "stasis is data."
A group of quotes about stasis includes the following:
[S]tasis, or nonchange, of most fossil species during their lengthy geological lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all paleontologists, but almost never studied explicitly because prevailing theory treated stasis as uninteresting nonevidence for nonevolution. [T]he overwhelming prevalence of stasis became an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left ignored as a manifestation of nothing (that is, nonevolution).Gould, S.J. (1993)
Natural History, February, p. 15
"The gaps in the fossil record are real, however. The absence of a record of any important branching is quite phenomenal. Species are usually static, or nearly so, for long periods; species seldom and genera never show evolution into new species or genera but replacement of one by another, and change is more or less abrupt."Wesson, R.
Beyond Natural Selection
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1991) P.45
Paleontologists just were not seeing the expected changes in their fossils as they pursued them up through the rock record. ... That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, ... prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ... One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserly fossil record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.Eldredge, N. and Tattersall, I. (1982)
The Myths of Human Evolution
Columbia University Press, p. 45-46
Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, who are quoted above, came up with the theory of punctuated equilibrium to try to reconcile evolution with stasis and sudden appearance, but PE seems grossly inadequate as an explanation.