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Table 5 Design-teleological and selection-teleological explanations for the features of sharks and dolphins

From: Students’ “teleological misconceptions” in evolution education: why the underlying design stance, not teleology per se, is the problem

QuestionDesign teleologySelection teleology
(1) Why do dolphins have hydrodynamic shapes?[DT1] Dolphins have hydrodynamic shapes in order to swim fast underwater, because organisms have the features that are necessary for their survival[ST1] Dolphins have hydrodynamic shapes in order to swim fast underwater, because the latter confers an advantage; consequently, this feature has been selected for doing this and has been maintained in their lineage
(2) Why do sharks have hydrodynamic shapes?[DT2] Sharks have hydrodynamic shapes in order to swim fast underwater, because organisms have the features that are necessary for their survival[ST2] Sharks have hydrodynamic shapes in order to swim fast underwater, because the latter confers an advantage; consequently, this trait has been selected for doing this and has been maintained in their lineage
(3) Why don’t dolphins have gills?[DT3] Dolphins do not have gills, but have lungs in order to get more oxygen directly from the atmosphere, because organisms have the features that are necessary for their survival[ST3] Dolphins do not have gills because this feature was not maintained in their lineage and because lungs evolved in their terrestrial ancestors
(4) Why do sharks have gills?[DT4] Sharks have gills in order to breathe underwater, because organisms have the features that are necessary for their survival[ST4] Sharks have gills in order to breathe underwater, because the latter confers an advantage; consequently, this trait has been selected for doing this and has been maintained in their lineage