I was probably trying to approach this from a different starting point.
Rather than Evolution's viewpoint I prefer my own on matters like this. Let
me rephrase and see if I can get the discussion going where my mind is.
When I see the world around me many of the flora and fauna strike me as
finished in some sense.Not like beautifully bound hardback compared to blank
paper but like a first draft compared to an outline. Np doubt you can get
out your empirical gun here and lay waste but I suspect that if we always
do that soon evolution will be a pointless parade of terms with little
relevance to what makes us even care to begin with. Now what I am wondering
is if we visited past time periods would the organisms strike us as on
their way or done. I guess one would say my preconcieved notions from my
time would be the standard of comparison thus wrecking my whole question
but I was hoping not. Once I answer this I would then move on to
evolution's perspective and look for something like "finished" or
whatever.I am still reaching for clarity but fire away.>
Your question is a good one--"Now what I am wondering is if we visited past
time periods would the organisms strike us as on their way or done?"
My answer is that I believe organisms would strike us as "done", not "on their
way". We would have no way of knowing whether any further evolution would
occur (assuming we had no preconceived notions brought in from our own time).
As I understand it, however, evolution is an open-ended process. Thus we
cannot assume, from an evolutionary perspective, that our present day's flora
and fauna are done. There may be a mutation, or group of them still to come
that would open up a new advance. Who knows? Evolution can make no
predictions about the next step or about the distant future. There is no
goal. At least I have not heard of any.
If you wish to read a rather sophisticated discussion of this topic, you can
find it in Michael Denton's book, _Nature's Destiny_. In his 13th chapter,
"The Principle of Plenitude" he argues that "the diversity of life on earth
approximates to the maximal diversity possible for carbon-based life." His
argument thus is that the carbon basis of life, not evolution, provides the
limit on diversity, and that we have reached that limit.
This suggests that if evolution has a goal it would be to generate all the
diversity possible, given carbon-based life. Has that goal been reached?
Denton thinks so.
I hope this addresses your questions in a helpful way.