Posts Tagged ‘Tree of Life’

Snake Venom Snag

Castoe VIII


Snake Venom Snag

The genetics of snake venom driving evolution has recently emerged as a popular field of investigation. A new study published in the journal Molecular Biological and Evolution, however, has uncovered a critical new snag.

The evolution of snake venom had been hypothesized to originate through a gene duplication process followed by the actions of natural selection leading to increased venom toxicity over time. However, the research team lead by Todd Castoe (pictured), Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Texas, has discovered a genetic snag challenging this once popular gene duplication theory. Continue Reading

Darwin’s Tree Infestation

Darwinius sedaris

Darwin’s Tree Infestation

Insects fascinated Charles Darwin. “No pursuit at Cambridge [University] was followed with nearly so much eagerness,” Darwin notes, “or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles.” His fascination continued while sailing aboard the HMS Beagle, collecting the only known specimen of Darwinius Sedaris (pictured) in 1832 while in Argentina.

Insects are the most species-rich group of organisms on Earth wielding immense ecological, economic and health power. Along with pollinating crops and vectoring infestations, a new insect genetics study has become a new infestation undermining Darwin’s once popular, yet perpetually elusive, tree of life.
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Evolution of Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’

Web‘Tree of life’ drawings are the only quintessential symbol of biological evolution. In 1837, Charles Darwin drew his first with the title “I Think. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in California, updated Darwin’s drawing as the organization’s logo in 2007. Since then, Darwin’s 1837 tree drawing has emerged as a popular subject for tattooing.

By the publication of The Origin of Species more than twenty years later in 1859, however, the tree had evolved into what Darwin called a “diagram” with no resemblance to the 1837 tree. Like the “I Think” drawing, Darwin never discloses what evidence behind the diagram. The drawing was simply ideological.

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New Bird “Tree of Life”?

Scientists last week have proposed evolutionary relationships among all 9,993 of the world’s known living bird species. In a study published in the prestigious Nature journal, scientists used DNA-sequence data to create a radiating phylogenetic tree — a branching map of proposed evolutionary relationships among species. From the genetic data, rates of global bird speciation across space and time were estimated.

Walter Jetz, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was the leading author of the study entitled “The global diversity of birds in space and time”.

“This is the first dated tree of life for a class of species this size to be put on a global map,” says Walter Jetz, in an interview with science writer Virginia Gewin of Nature News.

Gewin noted, however, that the “endeavor is also controversial, owing to the large number of species for which no sequence data are available.”

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Book Description

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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.