Posts Tagged ‘natural selection’
“The Brain defects caused by Zika virus ‘could set evolution back 2 million years’ scientists claim” was the leading story in the UKs Daily Mirror in February. Since then, the global spread of Zika virus, a previously known as a rare virus, continues as a leading headline story – for good reasons. As CNN reports, “This is the first time a mosquito has been found to cause congenital birth defects.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the article entitled “Zika virus and Birth Defects — Reviewing the Evidence for Causality” on April 13, written by a team headed by Sonja Rasmussen at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Rasmussen, “sufficient evidence has accumulated to infer a causal relationship between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies.” Since Zika infections are associated with congenital defects, the Zika virus is set to test the holy grail of evolution – natural selection.
Natural selection, sometimes known as the opium of the evolutionary biologists, has long been envisioned as the driving mechanism of biological evolution. “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” by Charles Darwin was the first publication to popularize natural selection. In the words of twentieth century evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge, “A century and a half ago, Charles Darwin offered the world a single, simple scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth: evolution by natural selection.”
Scientific evidence, however, continues to challenge the importance of natural selection in evolution. Eugenie Scott, recipient of the 2012 Richard Dawkins Award, in Evolution vs Creation (2013) hedges on the “single, simple” role of natural selection: “The main—but not the only—mechanism of biological evolution is natural selection” New evidence discovered in a human genetics study underscoring why, in the end, natural selection unfriends Darwin. Read the rest of this entry »
Mutation + Selection = Stasis
The genetic mutation plus natural selection equation emerged as the most popular theory of biological evolution during the twentieth century. With advances in biotechnology, however, the credibility of this theory – popularly known as neo-Darwinism or the Modern Synthesis theory – has since been increasingly challenged by evolutionary scientists.
In an experimental evolution model using the yeast microbe Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a recent study published in the journal Science by a Harvard research group undermines the theory of genetic mutations plus natural selection equals evolution. The model demonstrates stasis – not evolution.
War Over Natural Selection
After years of cross-referencing the works of Charles Darwin (1812-1882) alongside those of Patrick Matthew (1790-1874) to answer the question did Darwin ‘borrow” the theory of natural selection for The Origin of Species, Mike Sutton, a criminology expert at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that “I have no doubt, based on the weight of new evidence, that Darwin did read Matthew’s book and then went on to replicate his discovery and key themes.”
Science correspondent Sarah Knapton in the article, “Did Charles Darwin ‘borrow’ the theory of natural selection?” published by The Telegraph (UK) reporting on Sutton’s findings concludes that “Darwin must not only have been aware of Matthew’s work, but borrowed from it heavily” proving that “the naturalist [Darwin] lied.”
In the same way Isaac Newton discovered the laws of motion and gravity, Charles Darwin launched his pursuit to discover the laws of biological evolution. After decades of searching and studying, Darwin eventually proposed his law of evolution – “natural selection.”
Natural selection soon emerged as the cornerstone law of evolution following the publication of the first edition of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in November 1859. Natural selection stands as the fundamental tenet of Darwin’s theory of evolution, popularly known as Darwinism. But, what in natural selection – really?
In January paleontologist Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium published a paper in Nature a new fossil record discovery that defies, once again, long-held theories on the dinosaur to bird evolution.
In Liaoning Province located in north-east China, the team led by Godefroit in cooperation with a research team from the Jilin University Geological Museum in China undermines the pivotal position of Archaeopteryx – the bird that was once thought to be the original or “first bird.”
Archaeopteryx actually means the “ancient wing.” Continue Reading
Just a month before Christmas, Charles Darwin had successfully launched one of the most notable effects on modern Western society with the publication of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection on the 24th of November.
Even though all 1,250 copies of the first printing of the book were sold on the first day, by Christmas Darwin “found himself disturbed, even haunted,” in the words of Rebecca Stott in the book Darwin’s Ghosts, the Secret History of Evolution.
Throughout the sixth edition of The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin used the giraffe as an example to illustrate evolution through natural selection. Since the nineteenth century, however, the unfolding of scientific evidence continues to undermine – rather than support – Darwin’s contention that the long neck of the giraffe serves to illustrate evolution.
Undermining evidence is found in the giraffe’s leaf eating habits, fossil record, anatomy, physiology, and genetics.
Following in the footsteps of Frenchman Jean-Baptist Lamarck, Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species introduced a revolutionary new theory of biological evolution with the concept of natural selection.
Lamarck had envisioned evolution acting through the “Progress in complexity… due to the influence of environment and of acquired habits”. Darwin extended Lamarck’s “Progress in complexity” theory with the new proposed natural law of evolution−natural selection: “This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection.”
Evolution, since then, has been envisioned as a unidirectional preservation process of an unending increase in biological complexity; from microbe to man. New evidence from the HOX gene, however, undermines these fundamental tenets of evolution. Continue Reading
To explore the evolutionary mechanism between sister sea star species, a research team headed by Jonathan Puritz of Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii investigated the genetic and phylogeographic differences between the species living off the Australian coast in the Coral Sea.