Posts tagged: evolution
Using Darwin’s idea and other branches of science, we’re seeing researchers describing works of fiction in a new light.
Carroll and his colleagues then drew on anthropological research to argue why this behavior appeals. In our fraught hunter-gatherer days, when humans roamed about in small bands, people had to sacrifice selfish interests and work together, or they’d perish. In contrast, self-aggrandizing or dominant behavior threatened group survival. Victorian novels, in this view, merely dress up these ancient, evolved preferences in crinolines and top hats.
Interpretation of Hamlet through neuroscience of depression or how the wars in The Illiad and The Odyssey were fundamentally wars for marriages and evolutionary legacy. All these texts can be described using modern science, but scientists who are championing this form of research seem to finding hostility from the field of humanity:
Gottschall says the resistance to Darwinian lit crit among literary scholars reminds him of resistance among religious groups to evolution itself. “There’s the fear that if you were able to explain the arts and their power scientifically, you’d explain them away,” he says. “Humanities are the last bastion of magic.”
Pdf of the article here for non-subscribers.
Nature seems to be on a roll here with a publication on a new fungul phyla tentatively name cryptomyta. Characterised by a ‘fungaly’ uncharacteristic non-chitinous wall, this group potentially rewrites the fungal evolutionary tree and describes a group of organisms that deviated from the fungal species we know today.
But what sets the cryptomycota apart from the rest of the fungi is their lack of a cell wall made from chitin, the chemical from which insect exoskeletons are built. Development of a chitin-rich wall was one of the most important developments in fungal evolution, driving their success and diversification by allowing them to control how minerals and nutrients flowed into and out of their cells. The cryptomycota “must be a really ancient group of organisms that diverged from the rest of the fungi by the loss of chitinous walls”, says Hawksworth.
They seem to be closely related to the Rozella species, which was traditionally thought to be just a small ‘twig’ within the fungal tree.
The only previously known fungus that the team found to fall within the new group is the genus Rozella — long thought to be an oddity because of its lack of a chitinous cell wall — which diverged from the rest of the fungi very early on. “We thought that the Rozella branch of fungus was just a twig that had hung on over the course of evolution,” says James, “but this paper shows us it’s part of a whole evolutionary bush.”
Edit: Here’s the pdf for further info.
Myers delves into how the physiological features of the kidney can be explained in an evolutionary framework. Going from the basic pronephric kidney in the embryo to the metanephric kidney, we see how to it changes over time and how it is synchronous with the development of the reproductive organs.
I think you can see what’s cool about the kidneys — they follow a sequential pattern of development that also happens to reflect the evolutionary history of kidneys. You might be tempted to speculate that it follows a Haeckelian model, where development necessarily follows an evolutionary trajectory because change can only come by addition of new features, but don’t be fooled. There are a couple of reasons why this peculiar pattern of retaining ancient kidney types is maintained.
Based on Feynman’s statement on the atomic theory, Seed magazine put forward that question to some other scientists. It should contain the most information in the fewest words. Mine, would be the one on evolution:
The dazzling diversity of species and biological adaptations over 3.5 billion years of life on Earth owes its existence to “adaptation by natural selection,” which requires just three simple conditions to operate: variation, differential selection (the best performing traits survive and reproduce more effectively than others), and replication of successful traits by subsequent generations, via a double helix of molecules that code for proteins as biological building blocks, or among more complex animals, via imitation or cultural transmission of methods and knowledge.
—Dominic Johnson is a reader in politics and international relations at Edinburgh University
Fascinating talk on the future of human evolution. Unfortunately, actual points on the future was lacking, but he gave a very illuminating run down of what we are to expect 100 years from now. An interesting question was raised. If we had the capacity to remove genetic diseases prenatally, could we do the same to make our offsprings smarter, stronger, more artistic etc. I suppose, due to medical advancements, we are living longer on average, so the logical next step would be enhancements?