Interesting Topics on Evolution

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Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 19, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Ed's reference from Wiki on binomials and African polygyny is interesting to me because of the different vocabulary used to describe a familiar subject. What strikes me most about it however, is that it is descriptive but not explanatory.

Here's from a popular anthropology tutorial on kinship and marriage.
http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/tutor/marriage/polygyny.html

Demographic theory suggests that polygyny may occur because of a surplus of women that results from a high incidence of male warfare. However, polygyny occurs in many situations of relatively balanced gender ratios or even, as in the case of the Yanomamo, where males outnumber females. Accordingly, some men accumulate two or more wives only at the expense of others who never marry, or, much more usually, marry at a later age than women do. As such, the society becomes divided between young bachelors, who may remain single into their thirties and older polygynists. This arrangement may occur informally or may become a marked feature of the social structure. For example, in some South African societies, such as the Zulu, all young men in their twenties were organized into military “age regiments” and were not allowed to marry until their term of service ended. As we have already suggested, differences in marital age are also created by bride wealth requirements.

The social division between polygynists and bachelors points to another prevalent theory of polygyny, which is based on social stratification. In societies where men are not distinguished by differences in access to productive resources, such as land and capital, status distinctions are mainly attained and expressed through direct control over people. This goal is most obviously acheived through incorporating many women into one’s domestic group and expanding it by fathering a large number of children. A stratificational theory of polygyny also accounts for its greater incidence in comparison to polyandry, since men tend to occupy higher statuses than women in the majority of societies.


From a strictly biological interpretation, I believe one would argue that dominant men who also happen to be lucky and survive warfare early in life, seek to maximize their genes through polygyny, status being only secondary?

Then again, it seems from the woman's point of view that while the smart old boy's club invented these institutions, subsequent generations of men got so entangled in maintaining status, the original point was lost on all of the participants.

And couldn't this be said for any human institution including religion?
cowpoke

climber
Jan 20, 2013 - 04:00pm PT
OK, here is a silly thing bugging me about the algae news release. I find it strange that in the science daily press release for the "cheating" algae the authors use a comparison to group behaviors like schools of fish. This is a poor analogy, IMO, because unlike the authors suggest in the release, it is not necessary that all algae in the group release the toxin (such as they say is required of schools of fish...side question: is it true that there are no individual fish who benefit from the school by swimming close enough, without fully participating in the school?). For these algae to be successful, as a group, it is only necessary that there is a critical mass of participants. Indeed, isn't the critical mass notion precisely why they observe "free riders?" My opinion on this sales strategy is not critiquing the study, per se; I'm just thrown (and being nitpicky) by the authors' interpretations of why they think the study is important. (Another side note: I am totally in favor of scientists publicizing their work. And, to do so well, you have to have a good story to sell the consumer. In this case, I would think a better story would have been to focus on the fact that in many group behaviors it is critical mass that is important, not 100% buy in.)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 22, 2013 - 03:33pm PT
Interesting topics? How about this one...

A Harvard geneticist has raised eyebrows by declaring that scientists could make a Neanderthal clone baby if they had an "extremely adventurous female human" as a surrogate.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/harvard-prof-neanderthal-clones-experts-doubt/story?id=18275611

But experts say that safety and ethical hang-ups mean the first Neanderthal birth in 30,000 years is probably fiction, too.

What ethical hang-ups?
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 22, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
Carl Woese, evolutionary biologist of note, has died at 84.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 22, 2013 - 04:07pm PT
What ethical hangups ?

Bringing back one Neanderthal? What are you going to do, make a pet out of the poor thing?

They survived several ice ages, kept handicapped people alive and buried their children with flowers, so we know they were intelligent and sensitive. No doubt one neanderthal would feel lonely and probably have an inferiority complex because it was different than others and may or may not have the capacity to communicate with language. While keeping Washoe, the last Indian of his tribe at the U of California anthropology museum was interesting for western scientists, he led a very lonely life and he was a homo sapiens.
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 22, 2013 - 04:09pm PT
How about this one:

New Life-Forms, No DNA Required Artificial

organisms based on man-made molecules could thrive and evolve

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2961024/posts
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 22, 2013 - 08:25pm PT
Bringing back one Neanderthal? What are you going to do, make a pet out of the poor thing?

What, Jan, don't you think the benefits would far, far, far outweigh the risks?
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 22, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
As far as I know, nobody cloned a human yet. Most people see it either too risky or unethical. It will probably happen in the future, but I don't think a neanderthal will ever be cloned. That would be something similar to Nazis' experiments on humans. Neanderthals are our ancestors but would they be able to adapt to our modern world? What if not? Would you keep him/her in a cage? Scientific curiosity can't justify it.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:11pm PT
As we mature in our thinking about evolution and genetics...



...we will learn to distinguish between responsible eugenics and irresponsible eugenics.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 22, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
Oh sure...the Boobs thread gets deleted and now my thread gets a few hits. Come to think of it, wonder what the whole story on the evolution of boobs is. Is their currect, glorious expression primarily the result of sexual or "natural" selection?
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 23, 2013 - 12:59am PT
but I don't think a neanderthal will ever be cloned. That would be something similar to Nazis' experiments on humans.

On what do you base the first assertion?

It is my belief in our humanity (naïve? maybe).

The Nazi comparison is absurd on the face of it.

Nazis experimented on humans for the benefit of many. I don’t see a difference between their philosophy and experimental cloning of a Neanderthal.

Neanderthals are our ancestors

That is only partially true.

Semantics.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Is their currect, glorious expression primarily the result of sexual or "natural" selection?

Surgical, I'd say.

DMR
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 09:27am PT
Hellyeah let's clone an extinct primate species I mean, think of the benefit!!! (lol)



Here's the Program Director



Think of the benefits, people!

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 23, 2013 - 10:00am PT
Serious students of evolution should check out this review of Thomas Nagel's latest book in the NYR.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/07/awaiting-new-darwin/


From Allen Orr, the book reviewer,
"a scientific education is, to a considerable extent, an exercise in taming the authority of one’s intuition."

Ain't that the truth.

.....

Thomas Nagel,
The existence of consciousness seems to imply that the physical description of the universe, in spite of its richness and explanatory power, is only part of the truth,

So it "seems" to him. Perhaps this is why Nagel ended up a philosopher instead of a engineer, a bioengineer. (??)

In my (science and engineering-driven) view (shared by others) the existence of consciousness does NOT imply that the physical description of the universe is only part of the truth.

And in the very next sentence, Nagel adds...
[The existence of consciousness seems to imply that] the natural order is far less austere than it would be if physics and chemistry accounted for everything.


My view is, Nagel needs to expand his view beyond physics and chemistry to biology and bioengineering (in other words, to the sciences of how parts and systems interrelate and function synergistically to yield, in the end, useful functionality - not unlike computers, electronics and the internet.

In short, Nagel needs to think less like the ol' time philosopher and more like a computer-literate, information theory-savvy systems analyst or engineer.

What cowboy, even library scholar or librarian, 100 years ago could've conceived that 10,000 books would in the next century be rendered on a piece of plastic or sand? Or that a Go-Pro could render the day's climb start to finish - in HD no less - on same? All ultimately on a basis of physics, of course; and in between on a basis of parts, systems and synergy.

It's not "just" physics and chemistry. It's physics and chemistry and systems (of parts and wholes and interconnects) evolved over millions of years, extant only because their traits (features if not functions) confer existability.

T Nagel needs to either retire or go back to school.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 23, 2013 - 01:49pm PT
Another interesting topic: the evolution of hormonal mechanisms in cooperation strategies.

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1755/20122765.abstract.html?cpetoc

I know I've suspected it a long time now. And, btw, strangely, an image that always seems to come to mind when I think about this subject: seeing a male giraffe giving oral sex to another (a female I presumed) at a zoo some 20 years ago.

I'd bet for every one we know a little something about, there are 50 others we know nothing about. We are sacks of biochemistry, not just molecular biology, evolved into stable structures over billions of years. So says evolutionary biology!

.....

eeyonkee, I've always been more into legs, ass and hips than boobs. I consider it a strength. :)
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 23, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
Oxitocin is old news.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2183953/Oxytocin-Nose-happiness-Doctors-discover-nasal-spray-stop-couples-having-heated-arguments.html

I've always been more into legs, ass and hips than boobs

You probably carry an anti-boob mutation. Nothing serious, but think about your offspring :)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 26, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
eeyonkee, here's a short video of Steven Pinker, "Better Angels," you might like.

http://vimeo.com/58059626

Steven Pinker's the man.



Tag: Interesting Topics of Evolution / Cultural Evolution / A History of Violence

.....

Oxitocin is old news.

Oxytocin is just one of many many players, as I'm sure you know, in the endocrine control system of bodies and behavior.
moosedrool

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Jan 26, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
eeyonkee, here's a short video of Steven Pinker, "Better Angels," you might like.

Can I watch it too?


oops, I already did.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 26, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
Nice find, HFCS. I don't know who I like best, Steven Pinker or Richard Dawkins. They are both such great writers and thinkers. I've been reading three of Pinker's books over the last couple of months. The other two being "The Blank Slate" and "How the Mind Works". Just started reading two of Dawkin's books again, "River out of Eden" and "The Blind Watchmaker". Reading any of these books makes you feel smart.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Jan 28, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
re: Interesting topics

There seems to be a robust (but somewhat hushed) debate over just how long (5 generations or 50 or 500) it will take to "dumb down" to the proverbial dodo bird equivalent or eyeless salamander now that we've made our environment from sea o shining sea a relatively soft place to fall - and, of course, to reproduce - thanks to medicine, social welfare, modern law and democracies, etc..

In other words, just how long will it take the forces of entropy to dull the gene pool - first, enough to notice, and later, enough to cause problems - in the absence of Nature Past's red in tooth and claw honing pressures.

Of course the evolved features likely affected in our case won't be wings (dodo bird or galapagos cormorant) as much as physical prowess (speed, musculature) and brains. Eyes, too.

Needless to say, I'd be more concerned with this implication of evolutionary theory and genetics (maybe even eugenics) and technology and ethics if I were going to be around 500 years from now. I won't be.

Nonetheless it's interesting I think to think about.
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