Archive for January, 2014
Genetics, an Evolution Nightmare
Gene duplication has recently emerged as one of the most popular proposed driving mechanisms of evolution. “I think it’s a missing piece of human evolution,” said Evan Eichler, a geneticist at the University of Washington, in Seattle in an interview with Emily Singer and published the January 6 edition of Scientific America. “My feeling is that these duplication blocks have been the substrate for the birth of new genes.”
The survival and stability of DNA over time is of critical importance in genetics, forensic and reproductive medicine, and in the study of ancient DNA in fossils. The structural integrity of the DNA molecule, contrary to the Jurassic Park tale, is not infinitely stable. Damage to the DNA molecule in living organisms occurs naturally from normal metabolic and hydrolytic processes and from environmental factors such as ultraviolet light and radiation.
Damage to DNA in mammalian cells is known to occur 1 million times daily. While alive organisms can identify and correct these damages, the evolution industry has been reticent to address the stability of ancient DNA in the fossil record – perhaps strictly for philosophical reasons.