I know, I know, this isn’t really a falsehood, it’s just plain false, so it will be short. You would be surprised, however, with how much it permeates our language. The notions of “higher” and “lower” organisms or “more evolved” and “less evolved” somehow work their way into the brains and statements of many people without them even thinking it does (myself all too often included). Think of this not as a rebuke, but more drawing attention to what is often so easily overlooked.
“The Great Chain of Being” can be considered as one of those bad tastes which doesn’t seem to go away even after brushing with sandpaper and rinsing with vodka. It just seems to come back, somehow, over and over (that metallic taste may be blood). Organisms are often compared as in terms of “how advanced” their traits are. The legs of a tetrapod are “more advanced” than the fins of lobe-finned fishes. The idea of a trait being “advanced” or “primitive” implies some ultimate directionality in that the “primitive trait” will somehow become the “advanced trait.” My rhetorical question is this: in a system devoid of any developmental teleological conclusion, how can any trait be considered closer to the teleological goal?