Posts Tagged ‘Origin of Species’

Ancient Fungal Clues


Ancient Fungal Clues

Ancient fungal clues recently discovered off the coast of South Africa further stretch the boundaries of the theory of evolution. Birger Rasmussen, a geology professor at the Western Australian School of Mines, was drilling at a depth of 2,600 feet for the purpose of dating the ancient submarine lava in the Ongeluk Formation estimated to be 2.4 billion years old in Northern Cape Province of South Africa when he unexpectedly noticed what appeared to be microfilaments (pictured).

“I was startled to find a dense mesh of tangled fossilized microbes,” Rasmussen said in an interview with LiveScience writer Jerry Redfern last month. To Marlowe Hood writing for Phys.org, Rasmussen recalled that “My attention was drawn to a series of petrified gas bubbles, and when I increased the magnification of the microscope, I was startled.” The bubbles were “filled with hundreds of exquisitely preserved filaments that just screamed ‘life.’” In the words of Science Alert writer Peter Dockrill, “It’s raising some big evolutionary questions.”
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Behavioral Evolution in the Red Fire Ant


Behavioral Evolution in the Red Fire Ant

The behavioral evolution in the red fire ant species with the two different types of colonies, one with a single queen and one with multiple queens, have long puzzled biologists. An invisible border seems to exist between the two. Queen ants happening to wander between colonies are quickly destroyed by the male ants. To understand what evolutionary mechanisms might be at play, molecular scientists have recently turned to the genome.

At Queen Mary University of London, a team of biochemists led by Rodrigo Pracana (pictured below) sequenced the whole genome in both colony types to examine the genetic difference between the two types of colonies – SB and Sb. Surprisingly, rather than finding “slight, successive changes” as predicted by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, they discovered two the genes to be “highly divergent” from each other.
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Origin of Bioluminescence


Origin of Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is woven into folklore legends. From the 8th century Japanese firefly legend known as hotaru, to Fox an Apache American Indian who spread fire over the Earth during festive dance with fireflies, the world-wide wonder of bioluminescence is interlaced throughout the expanse of nature from the microbe to vertebrates.

“Researchers,” however, “have long wondered how bioluminescence came to be,” wonders science writer Steph Yin in the Quanta Magazine article entitled “In the Deep, Clues to How Life Makes Light.”

To explore the science of ancient legends, evolutionary biologist Matthew Davis at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, published the results of their study in the paper entitled “Repeated and Widespread Evolution of Bioluminescence in Marine Fishes” in the journal PLoS One (2016). Despite the inference in the title, however, evidence for the origin of bioluminescence continues to stymie scientists.
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Bacteria Evolution


Bacteria Evolution

The shape of bacteria has long been anticipated to correlate with movement. From an evolutionary perspective, form is predicted to follow function – but, had yet to be tested. In the words of evolutionary geneticist Fouad El baidouri, “despite a few pioneering attempts to link bacterial form and function, functional morphology is largely unstudied in prokaryotes [bacteria].”

Now in a landmark study published in Nature, Ecology & Evolution, a research team lead by El baidouri from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom Elizabeth Allen explains in Phys Org, “the shape of bacteria does not influence how well they can move – this is the surprising finding… The findings refute long-held theories that there should be a strong link between the evolution of shape in bacteria and their ability to move.”

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Bird Eye Random Regularity

CHIKN_1K copy
Bird Eye Random Regularity

The mystery behind the superiority of bird eye sight over humans is now more mysterious than ever. Joe Corbo, staring into the eye of a chicken seven years ago, saw something startling carpeting the retina. Rather than randomly distributed color-sensitive cones, like in humans, Corbo observed a uniform distribution of the cones – a pattern previously unrecognized in birds.

Science writer, Natalie Wolchover, in A Bird’s-Eye View of Nature’s Hidden Order published in Quanta Magazine in July reported that while cones were remarkably uniform in distribution, the actual cone locations seemed haphazard. “The dots’ locations followed no discernible rule, yet never seemed too close or too far apart” – a strange mix of bird eye random regularity.

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R2d2 Disses Darwin

R2d2 Graphic II
 R2d2 Disses Darwin

R2D2, short for Artoo-Detoo, is best known as the fictional robotic character in the Star Wars universe series created by George Lucas. Inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003, R2D2 has since been included in the Smithsonian Institution list of 101 Objects that Made America. R2D2 is the good guy; the favorite character of George Lucas – known for always saving the day at least once in every film.

In the realm of biology however, the R2d2 gene is a Darth Vader villain terrorizing Darwin’s once popular theory. R2d2’s newly recognized function was published on February 15 in a paper in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution by leading investigator Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena (pictured below), professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. With a stealthy title, “R2d2 drives selfish sweeps in the house mouse,” R2d2 disses Darwin with scientific evidence.
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Genetic Origins Uncoding Evolution

Zagrovic, Bojan II
Genetic Origins Uncoding Evolution

The genetic code is the universal language of life−from the first microbe to man. Searching for the origins of the first genetic code mystery, however, is uncoding evolution.

Over the past two years, the research team of Bojan Žagrović (pictured) at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna has been searching for a natural mechanism driving the genesis of the original genetic code−the longstanding nemesis of the evolution industry.

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Evolution at an Impasse

WebEvolution at an Impasse

Two opposing theories of evolution have emerged into a new impasse – “survival of the fittest” versus symbiosis. As Charles Darwin explained in The Origin of Species (1859), evolution results from competition between species. On the opposing side, evolution is thought to result from altruistic cooperation between species−a process of symbiosis.

Darwin proposed that evolution stems from “accumulating slight, successive” changes during the “struggle for life”−a process he called natural selection. Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, born the same year as Darwin, captured the essence of this struggle for life in the now infamous phrase—“nature red in tooth and claw.”

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War Over Natural Selection

Matthew, Patrick III

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.”
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Algae Asphyxiates Evolution Principle

Algae Cardinale

Algae Asphyxiates Evolution Principle

In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin cast his theory of evolution centered on a “struggle for life” principle – coined as the “war of nature” or the “survival of the fittest” in 1859.  This principle is presented in the complete title of his legionary book – On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

This competitive “struggle for life,” Darwin had argued, occurs between the new and the original species. With the emergence of new species, they were imagined to compete even against their own parents:

“The principle of competition [is] between organism and organism, between child and parent… supplant[ing] the old and unimproved forms.”

Competition increases with increasing similarity. “As the species of the same genus,” Darwin argued, “the struggle will generally be more severe between them, if they come into competition with each other, than between the species of distinct genera.” Since then, however, the evidence directly challenges Darwin’s principle of evolution. Continue Reading

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Darwin, Then and Now is a journey through the most amazing story in the history of science - the history of evolution. The book encapsulates who Darwin was, what he said, and what scientists have discovered since the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.

With over 1,000 references, Darwin Then and Now is a historical chronicle of the rise and fall of the once popular theory of biological evolution.

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