Mutation: The Raw Material for Evolution

This article was written by a religious doctor with questions regaurding how changes in species occur over time. Originally, we call this process of slow change over time natural selection. But this scientist pointed out the fact that this process only takes AWAY the “unfit” characteristics of a species, not how they change for the better. Although she believes that God created living things at first which have become degenerative since, the ideas she suggests got me thinking.

This directly relates to what we’ve learned about variation of species through time. Slow mutations may be the only way a species could become more or less favorable to a certain environment. While some extreme environments may drive these mutations to happen faster, the original idea of natural selection adding to a species genotype could be completely untrue.

Personally, I do not agree with this authors creationistic view on living things. Although she is a very educated scientist and biologist, her faith has possibly caused her some confusion. I enjoyed reading this article and thinking about the points on mutation as it relates to our class.

The Evolution of Intelligence

As I was browsing through scientific articles about evolution, one in particular stuck out. Here is the article:

A study by LiveScience used computers and their Neural Networking applications to program certain events which would force cooperative learning. This article suggests that through research and results, species will evolve into more intelligent beings if members of that species work together more often.

This article relates to what we are learning about evolution through Darwin’s theory of natural selection. As more and more organism’s in a species learn to cooperate to survive, the more intelligent their offspring will become. Not only in a sense that the parents can teach this behavior, but it is also encoded into their DNA.

One thing that I find confusing about the research is that it suggests that the ideas produced by Lamarck about transmitting changes found in one organsisms lifetime to it’s offspring. Originally, scientists have thought that to be untrue, but if what this research concludes is true this may not be the case. All in all, it was an interesting article which made me think about the information we’ve learned in this class in a different way.

“You are what you eat”

I found this article on Yahoo, so I clicked on the link for the actual article and read more.

This article caught my attention because from what we have learned from genetics and natural selection, individuals do not change their genetic code. As in the classic example outlined in our book, giraffes do not one day decide to grow a longer neck. However, as we are discovering more information on human genetics and biology, Lamarck’s concept of the inheritance of acquired characteristics may not be so far-fetched. This article talks about changes in the epigenetics of a human, not the actual genetics, but rather the enzymes and chemicals that help orchestrate DNA expression. Typically, these epigenetics are erased from generation to generation but scientists are discovering that some are not erased. According to the article, the epigenetics of a human can be changed drastically by the food we eat and this in turn can be passed to our offspring.

When reading this article I noticed that a lot of it was still research in the works. I figured this made sense since we still know relatively very little about human gene expression. On another note, when reading this I thought about the many different chemicals that go into our food and how unhealthy it is. While this is an unrealistic idea in today’s world, will, by natural selection, the humans that eat healthier and produce healthier offspring, be more adaptively fit?

Needless to say, I put down my bag of potato chips after reading this article!

Evolution big issue in Kansas school board races

This article addresses the issues found in today’s society with evolution. While some like Brian Cole from the article believe “God created the world” others argue that evolution is a “well-founded, core scientific concept” that should be taught in every school.

I believe this is a very important issue; and can be shared throughout our community. This is important because I think that we are still evolving and there are still things we are unknowledgeable about. Having said that, I do not believe there should be a rivalry between God and evolution.

I think this was an overall complete article. It stated both sides of argument, and brought real opinions that the reader can easily relate to.

Early Human Ancestor, Australopithecus Sediba, Fossils Discovered in Rock

I came across this story looking for an interesting topic related to this class that I could write a blog post about.

Scientists from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg were the ones who announced the discovery of the Australopithecus Sediba. This article says they found more fossils of this early human ancestor. It is now the closest thing they have to a full fossil with these findings.

This is related to the course because we have talked about all these different fossils and early human ancestors and early hominids.

I found this discovery very interesting because if they are still finding these fossils today it makes me wonder what other fossils are out there we will still find.

Tarsiers – A very unique primate

When learning about primate taxonomy, I was curious as to what a tarsier was. Since it was only briefly mentioned and not the focus of the unit, I decided to do some research myself.

I found some very interesting information on tarsiers from an article in the NY Times. They are not found in zoos, only average about 5 inches, and are ultrasonic, with some species having calls around 90 kHz (average human can’t hear above 20 kHz). There is a sound bit listed below the picture of a call of a tarsier slowed down–prepare yourself, it is not music to the ears!

This article is brief but contains a ton of interesting information and a link to a study on the ultrasound calls. I think it is amazing that we share an order with such a unique creature. It is also helping us understand our hearing range as humans and is a unique way to compare ourselves to distant relatives.

If you find any other interesting information or studies on tarsiers, share them! They are really cool to read about.

Here is the article from the NY times:

The article contains the link to the study, but I will post it here as well:

How Native Americans Got Here

I was looking around on Facebook and on Harvard’s page, I found a four year study done that looked at how ancient people crossed over from Siberia to America.  They performed genetic tests on people from both regions and found that there have been at least three migrations from Asia to America, and at least one going in the opposite direction.  They were able to come to this conclusion by reviewing data of Native American genes found the Naukan and Chukchi people of northeastern Siberia.

This article was more about genetic anthropology and, although it didn’t explicitly say it, they must have used the method of the molecular clock in order to figure out when people migrated and how many times it happened.  There was also information in the article that explained how their data was complicated by the new genetic variations introduced into populations when Europeans arrived in the late 15th century, but they were able to isolate genes that were known to be of Native American origin.  They still have a lot of data go to through, however, and the study is not nearly complete.

I found it very interesting how they were able to isolate such genes and figure out which ones came from what places and how they ended up where they are today.  They were so accurate with their data that they were able to conclude that the third migration from Asia to America accounted for 10% of the genetic background of Canada’s Chipewyan people.

Here is the article.

How ‘Lucy’ Got Her Name

After reading section four I wanted to look up more information on Lucy. I found this short video on YouTube about how she received her name. Donald Jonanson explains his thoughts and what his team was thinking when they found Lucy. He even mentioned that when he named her she felt more like an individual then just a piece of bones that they dug up. This is related to our course since it talks about Lucy and how she came to be. For a video so short I thought it was very informational and entertaining. I do wish it was longer to learn more but it was enough to make it interesting. I learned more about Lucy from Donald’s perception, which gave me an idea on how an anthropologist thinks.


Early Tool-Maker Fossil Could Rewrite Human Ancestry

I came across this article when I was researching some of the different tool examples ancient ancestors used.  I was curious on all the different types of tools they used and when I saw the title of this article I had to read it.  This article explains that their might be an older tool-maker then anthropologists originally thought. The fossilized skeleton of Australopithecus sediba was dated to 250,000 years earlier then the oldest known tool-maker. It is even discussed that Australopithecus sediba could be the first direct ancestor of humans. This relates to this class because we talked about who the anthropologists believed were our first ancestors were and how they developed into humans today.  I really enjoyed this article because it just goes to show that there is always more things to find out there to better understand our history.

Ancient Life in Modern Organisms

I happened to come across this article by searching the google search engine while looking for topics about this course ISS 220.

This article is about taking an extremely old gene from bacteria and inserting it into a modern day bacteria and watching its reaction and how it adapts.  This took place at Georgia Tech.  Researchers resurrected a 500 million year old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli.  They then study to see how it adapts and evolves to its new environment so they can see how it might have reacted back millions of years ago.

This relates to this course because we have talked many times about species and other things adapting and evolving due to environmental pressures it is faced with.

I thought this was an interesting experiment and its very cool how they can resurrect things from so long ago and and put it into modern organisms. Makes me really think and want to find out how all these cells and bacterias would react in these different enviorments.