Our minds boggle at how the wolf could become the chihuahua, the Saint Bernard, the poodle and the Komondor
. Artificial selection was likewise responsible for transforming the humble wild mustard plant Brassica oleracea
into cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and the breathtaking fractal Romanesco
, all in the span of a few centuries. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator
on Aug 23, 2010 -
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 -