Indeed, at 6 million years of separation, the difference in [Y-chromosome] gene content in chimpanzee and human is more comparable to the difference in autosomal gene content in chicken and human, at 310 million years of separation.
It is commonly said that the Human and Chimpanzee genomes share 99% or more identical DNA. In a surprising development about to be published in Nature
, the Y-chromosomes of these two species were found to share only 70% of their DNA, raising important questions about the mode and tempo by which speciation from a common ancestor occurred. This finding may point the finger
at the evolution of different patterns of sperm-competition and mating practices within these two species.
posted by Rumple
on Jan 16, 2010 -
Carl Zimmer on the duck's incredibly long, corkscrew-shaped, ballistic penis.
My tale is rich with deep scientific significance, resplendent with surprising insights into how evolution works, far beyond the banalities of “survival of the fittest,” off in a realm of life where sexual selection and sexual conflict work like a pair sculptors drunk on absinthe, transforming biology into forms unimaginable. But this story is also accompanied with video. High-definition, slow-motion duck sex video. And I would imagine that the sight of spiral-shaped penises inflating in less than a third of second might be considered in some quarters to be not exactly safe for work. It’s certainly not appropriate for ducklings.
[As Carl says, video links are possibly NSFW.] [more inside]
posted by chorltonmeateater
on Dec 23, 2009 -
While evolution is one of the best-supported theories in science, one lay criticism is that it doesn't explain the creation of life from non-life, or abiogenesis
. This is a different problem domain, of course, as survival of the fittest hardly applies if there's nothing alive yet. There have been many guesses over the years: the most commonly accepted is "the primordial soup". That's probably what you learned in school, the Frankenstein's Monster approach to cell creation. Start with a random chemical bath, throw enough lightning at it, and mysterious magic happens, somehow resulting in life.
Dr. William Martin of the University of Düsseldorf, working with geochemist Mike Russell, has presented an actual theory of abiogenesis. It neatly explains both bacteria and archaea
, describes fairly closely why they function the way they do, and shows why we don't see new life being created now. Their suggestion: our original ancestor wasn't lightning-zapped soup, but rather a proton-powered rock
posted by Malor
on Oct 19, 2009 -
Former child actor Kirk Cameron
and his friend Ray (The Banana Guy
) Comfort [previously]
seek to distribute the "correct
" (aka altered
) version of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species
to 50,000 students at the nation's top 50 universities as the book is soon to celebrate its 150th
anniversary. Their version includes a 50-page introduction which "...gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin's life, Adolph Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin's racism, his disdain for women, and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God..." Cameron's promotional video for the project: 'Origin Into Schools
.' A video response: "Origin of Stupidity
." [more inside]
posted by ericb
on Sep 24, 2009 -
Researchers have found that beautiful women have more children than their plainer counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, once adult, also tend to be attractive and so repeat the pattern
posted by monospace
on Jul 28, 2009 -
The Village Dog Project
is an ongoing
research project to document genetic diversity in pariah dogs. These dogs haven't been subject to breed pressure, and may be able to help researchers learn more
about the transition from wolf to dog. (via
posted by Pants!
on Jun 23, 2009 -
On hive minds,
“cognitive calisthenics”, “You+”. Cascio predicts that in the near future “many more humans will have the capacity to do something that was once limited to a hermetic priesthood”.
Get Smart, by Jamais Cascio, the Atlantic, July/August 2009
posted by mareli
on Jun 18, 2009 -
Meet Ida, the missing link.
"Ida is the most complete early primate fossil ever found, and scientists believe that she could be one of our earliest
ancestors. She is a remarkable link between the first primates and modern humans and despite having lived 47 million years ago, her features show striking similarities to our own."
posted by HumanComplex
on May 19, 2009 -
Why is the penis shaped like that? [T]he human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.
posted by hippybear
on May 5, 2009 -
On April 23, 2009 Natalia Rybczynski, Mary R. Dawson, and Richard H. Tedford published their paper "A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia
" in the journal, Nature
, detailing their 2007 discovery of the species they have named Puijila darwini
The carnivorous marine mammal, which lived about 21 to 24 million years ago
, was discovered practically by accident
, but as a "transitional fossil" is re-writing our understanding of pinniped evolution
. It could also be noted that it was most likely cute as all get out
, and is already the star of it's own mini documentary
posted by vertigo25
on Apr 29, 2009 -
Richard Dawkins was recently invited to speak at the University of Oklahoma’s Darwin 2009
series of lectures on March 6th, 2009. The speech to be entitled "The Purpose of Purpose"
quickly grew in popularity and even had to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate the quickly increasing crowd. Of course, word eventually reached Todd Thompson
. Friction ensues. [more inside]
posted by 5imian
on Apr 3, 2009 -
For most of us, science arrives in our lives packaged neatly as fact. But how did it get that way? Science is an active process of observation and investigation. Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? [HTML version, Flash version also available]
examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding. In this case study in human origins, the folks from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
explore how scientific evidence is being used to shape our current understanding of ourselves: What makes us human—and how did we get this way?
posted by netbros
on Mar 25, 2009 -