21 NOV 2017 by ideonexus

 Evolutionary History Through Macro and Micro Observations

Everything in the cosmos has a history. The old dichotomy between the "historical" sciences (like geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology) and the (for want of a better term) "functional" sciences (like physics and chemistry—some would call them the "real sciences") was always supposed to be that fields like physics study dynamic processes and discover immutable laws of interaction among particles composing the cosmos—while the historical sciences study, well, history—the suppose...
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09 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 Humans are Like Deer in the Anthropocene

I asked Rooney about the remarkable ability of deer to thrive in their home range—most of the U.S.—while producing ecosystem simplification and a biodiversity crash. In his own studies of deer habitats in Wisconsin, Rooney found that only a few types of grass thrive under a deer-dominant regime. The rest, amounting to around 80 percent of native Wisconsin plant species, had been eradicated. “The 80 percent represent the disappearance of 300 million years of evolutionary history,” he s...
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Tyranny of the Gene Tempered by Junk DNA

The analogies between the genetic evolution of biological species and the cultural evolution of human societies have been brilliantly explored by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. The book is mainly concerned with biological evolution; the cultural analogies are only pursued in the last chapter. Dawkins's main theme is the tyranny which the rigid demands of the replication apparatus have imposed upon all biological species throughout evolutionary history. Every species is the pris...
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21 JUN 2013 by ideonexus

 How Plants and Animals Survive in Their Environment

Plants and animals are separated by about 1.5 billion years of evolutionary history. They have evolved their multicellular organization independently but using the same initial tool kit the set of genes inherited from their common unicellular eucaryotic ancestor. Most of the contrasts in their developmental strategies spring from two basic peculiarities of plants. First, they get their energy from sunlight, not by ingesting other organisms. This dictates a body plan different from that of ani...
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Animals spend energy to maintain an internally consistent state, while plants change their state in response to the environment.

09 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 Life is an Act of Endless Creativity

Life is an act of endless creativity. With all its simmering tragedy and occasional catastrophe, a human life is an amazing thing to contemplate and experience. None of us had any special plan laid out for us when we were born. By abandoning the idea that and say, "What's done is done. Now how can I make the best of the here and now?" Life is never static. Despite catastrophic tragedies, life has persisted in evolving new varieties of unimaginable forms. I find comfort in the narrative of evo...
Folksonomies: meaning creativity purpose
Folksonomies: meaning creativity purpose
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When we create, we are part of the story.

04 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Sir Charles Bell on the Phylogeny of the Fetus' Brain

Man has two conditions of existence in the body. Hardly two creatures can be less alike than an infant and a man. The whole fetal state is a preparation for birth ... The human brain, in its earlier stage, resembles that of a fish: as it is developed, it resembles more the cerebral mass of a reptile; in its increase, it is like that of a bird, and slowly, and only after birth, does it assume the proper form and consistence of the human encephalon.
Folksonomies: evolution phylogeny
Folksonomies: evolution phylogeny

Which recapitulates its evolutionary history (note: need reference for this)

21 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Are Humans Still Evolving?

Anybody who teaches human evolution is inevitably asked: Are we still evolving? The examples of lactose tolerance and duplication of the amylase gene show that selection has certainly acted within the last few thousand years. But what about right now? It’s hard to give a good answer. Certainly many types of selection that challenged our ancestors no longer apply: improvements in nutrition, sanitation, and medical care have done away with many diseases and conditions that killed our ancestor...
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Culture has removed many of the selective pressures from human survival, allowing harmful mutations to build up in the genepool; meanwhile, people living in third-world countries continue to experience selective pressures from droughts, famines, and disease.

16 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny

Now, we’re not absolutely sure why some species retain much of their evolutionary history during development. The “adding new stuff onto old” principle is just a hypothesis—an explanation for the facts of embryology. It’s hard to prove that it was easier for a developmental program to evolve one way rather than another. But the facts of embryology remain, and make sense only in light of evolution. All vertebrates begin development looking like embryonic fish because we all descended...
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Embryos go through the stages of the evolution of their ancestors as they develop.

16 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 Design As Evidence of Evolution or Creation

It’s important to realize, though, that there’s a real difference in what you expect to see if organisms were consciously designed rather than if they evolved by natural selection. Natural selection is not a master engineer, but a tinkerer. It doesn’t produce the absolute perfection achievable by a designer starting from scratch, but merely the best it can do with what it has to work with. Mutations for a perfect design may not arise because they are simply too rare. The African rhinoce...
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There's a big difference between how species would look if they were designed or engineered versus how they would look if they evolved. Evolution works with pre-existing traits, and engineer works from scratch.

28 JUL 2011 by ideonexus

 Sign Language May Boost Cognition in Children by 50 Percent

Gestures and speech used similar neural circuits as they developed in our evolutionary history. University of Chicago psycholinguist David McNeill was the first to suggest this. He thought nonverbal and verbal skills might retain their strong ties even though they’ve diverged into separate behavioral spheres. He was right. Studies confirmed it with a puzzling finding: People who could no longer move their limbs after a brain injury also increasingly lost their ability to communicate verball...
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Children who learned the form of communication in the first grade performed 50 percent better on a series of cognitive tests.