Interesting Topics on Evolution

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High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Potemkin Village
Dec 5, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/seven-evolutionary-reasons-people-deny-evolution

I like Chris Mooney. These are seven good reasons. Another is just as basic, I think.

(8) Lack of life experience in nature investigation or lack of life experience in science.

Just as not everyone has a passion for rock climbing, not everyone has a passion for nature investigation or a passion for science.



Something we have to live with, I guess.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Apr 7, 2015 - 03:38pm PT
digital technology could have a greater impact than anything that has come before. It will enhance the powers of some individuals and organizations while subverting the powers of others, creating both opportunities and risks that could scarcely have been imagined a generation ago.

http://medium.com/@dkroy/our-transparent-future-aa86a7bcfe85

"The tremendous change in our world triggered by this media inundation can be summed up in a word: transparency. We can now see further, faster, and more cheaply and easily than ever before — and we can be seen. And you and I can see that everyone can see what we see, in a recursive hall of mirrors of mutual knowledge that both enables and hobbles. The age-old game of hide-and-seek that has shaped all life on the planet has suddenly shifted its playing field, its equipment and its rules. The players who cannot adjust will not last long."

"As optimists, we would like to believe that this period of turmoil will push us toward organizations better aligned with the moral codes of civil society and powerful novel ways to correct deviant organizational behavior. But we cannot rule out a permanent weakening of our intelligence organizations that will reduce their abilities to identify threats."

"The new transparency will lead to a similar proliferation of tools and techniques for information warfare: campaigns to discredit sources, preemptive strikes, stings, and more."

"Time will tell, but it appears that we might be at the cusp of a radical branching of the organizational tree of life."

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-digital-transparency-became-a-force-of-nature/
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 24, 2015 - 07:56am PT
Did natural selection make the Dutch the tallest people on the planet?

So their heads stay above water in a flood?

For many years, the U.S. population was the tallest in the world. In the 18th century, American men were 5 to 8 centimeters taller than those in the Netherlands. Today, Americans are the fattest, but they lost the race for height to northern Europeans—including Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, and Estonians—sometime in the 20th century.

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/04/did-natural-selection-make-dutch-tallest-people-planet

The study suggests that sexual selection is at work in the Dutch population, Stearns says: Dutch women may prefer taller men because they expect them to have more resources [eg., tools to toys?] to invest in their children.

So much mystery and speculation, so little time.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 25, 2015 - 11:48am PT
There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.

I love that line. But seriously, I appreciate you keeping this thread alive HFCS. Turns out, I have changed my thinking on the subject of are humans still evolving - 186 degrees.

The book, The Beak of the Finch, changed my thinking on the subject. Evolution can happen a lot faster than I thought. And the reason it happens fast is the combination of "natural" and "sexual" selection. They seem to combine in this way that provides feedback that ultimately accelerates evolution. The most mysterious part, to me, is how, in an emergent species, the females "know" how to select those males having the new, fitter gene(s).

Having said that, our ability to engineer our progeny in the future will likely overwhelm natural and sexual selection, although this sort of evolution might still apply to some future underclass.
Pete_N

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Jul 25, 2015 - 03:52pm PT
1. Are humans still evolving? I mean significantly. Are we going to continue evolving bigger brains for instance. Since natural selection requires some sort of selection pressure, typically involving either a significant culling or isolation of a population, is this likely in a world of 7 billion where people move (and procreate) freely across the planet?

2. Is group selection, as advocated most notably by the evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson, a viable process for explaining things like altruism or can this be explained entirely by selection at the organism or gene level?

3. What is the likelihood that the emergence of life on a planet will lead to intelligent life given 100s of millions or billions of years of evolution to work with.

1. Yes. As long as there's heritable variation and selection, you'll get evolution. Because the usual forms of natural selection are less applicable (that's arguable!) to humans, it's not clear just what forms of selection are likely to be most important for us currently.

2. I'm not up on the most current research here, I don't think that some of these phenomena _can_ be explained solely by selection at the level of the individual. Also, don't discount the importance of culture, which, I suspect, often leads to a form of group selection.

3. Don't know enough to comment...
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jul 25, 2015 - 04:00pm PT
Anyone catch this last week?

http://news.discovery.com/animals/endangered-species/human-hands-more-primitive-than-chimp-hands-150714.htm



The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications, determined that while human hand proportions have changed little from those of the last common ancestor of chimps and humans, the hands of chimps and orangutans have evolved quite a bit.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Jul 25, 2015 - 08:17pm PT


I sometimes wonder if we are overall devolving as a species on a large scale (increase in obesity, heart disease etc...) while small subgroups evolve to unimaginable talent and physical prowess (ie Usain Bolt's 100m time.....the result of a terrific genetic gift coupled with a culture of skill and drive and effort......or your typical collegiate swimmer as compared to 1958.)

Some of our larger environments seem to dumb down the genetic pool, while others are selectively improving the progeny of the next generation. Ie. beautiful people marrying beautiful people which leads to beautiful children who will then marry beautiful people who will have good looking kids. Or I now know many couples who were both Olympians who are seeing their kids grow up to be Olympians and date olympians..... In three short generations you seem to have a really high chance of genetic specificity toward a particular sport. Couple that with a culture of a sport in a family and the potential for "selection" seems quite high.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jul 25, 2015 - 08:40pm PT
My outlook outlook on human evolution. For a period of time from about 100,00 or 40,000 years ago to about 100 years ago human populations managed to separate and start a process of individual population evolution. Some physical characteristics began to diverge and become distinct. Perhaps other characteristics.

Regardless we are now in a time of homogenization. I now see only two sources of radical change in our species evolution. A massive depopulation event or taking our genetic code into our own hands or a combination of both...

I am highly optimistic about the future of the human race. While we may (likely) go though various depopulation events over eons, the species is robust and incredibly adaptable for survival in almost all environments on land that earth offers.

I grew up with Eskimos for a time and, wow, If one can subsist in that environment.. well it's gonna be hard to get rid of the human race.

I am hopeful that we will evolve into a species with better capability for peaceful sustainable civilization.

Yep YER GUNNA DIE.. we all will..but not likely all at once until we become something different.

BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 25, 2015 - 08:46pm PT

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications, determined that while human hand proportions have changed little from those of the last common ancestor of chimps and humans, the hands of chimps and orangutans have evolved quite a bit.

I wonder what it is in the environment that has caused these dramatic changes?

Bolts record in the 100, and 200 doesn't have to do with his genetic breeding. Although his genetics did allow him to reach this Plateau. But it was certainly the environment of the other top runners that pushed him to that extra -.05 record
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 25, 2015 - 08:52pm PT

I now see only two sources of radical change in our species evolution. A massive depopulation event or taking our genetic code into our own hands or a combination of both...

These are both environmentally caused. If nothing more, it proves how much more the environment is in control of evolution over genetics.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 25, 2015 - 09:42pm PT
I hope people start thinking deeper about what Darwin actually said.
WBraun

climber
Jul 25, 2015 - 09:50pm PT
Americans have devolved.

So the stupid evolution theory is completely smashed.

De-evolution is happening also ......
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 29, 2015 - 07:55am PT
BREAKING!

New hypothesis regarding evolution...

Credit: High Fructose Corn Spirit

Credit: High Fructose Corn Spirit

Taking a page from one Donald Hoffman, cognitive scientist and author of more than 90 scientific papers and three books...

the hypothesis - shown above in picture format - though probably untrue is presented precisely so that it can be proven precisely or disproven precisely...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYp5XuGYqqY
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 29, 2015 - 08:43am PT
Some of our larger environments seem to dumb down the genetic pool, while others are selectively improving the progeny of the next generation.

Isn't that evolution too?

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 29, 2015 - 09:01am PT
Good point.

And earlier I spoke of dysgenic effects. The point made was that whether or not an evolved change is dysgenic (or eugenic) depends on point of view and the the goal or objective.

That is one of the most interesting parts to me... how it is a function of how you look at it.

The dodo we can imagine with no interest in flying any more like its ancestors - after all it's home was paradise - why go (fly) anywhere else? - was of course proud of its newly (d)evolved upper limbs.

No interest until there is...



Is the eyelessness in the eyeless cave salamander net positive (eu-) or net negative (dys-)?
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 29, 2015 - 12:00pm PT
From the OP:

1. Are humans still evolving? I mean significantly. Are we going to continue evolving bigger brains for instance. Since natural selection requires some sort of selection pressure, typically involving either a significant culling or isolation of a population, is this likely in a world of 7 billion where people move (and procreate) freely across the planet?
Of course we are changing, and that is all that evolution means: change.

Many inheritable diseases can be treated now, so the afflicted can have children and pass on the defect. There might be "positive" evolutionary processes going on, but I doubt it. Anyone can have children. It has nothing to do with economic or physical success. Anyone can mate now, and their progeny has an excellent chance of surviving to adulthood.

Perhaps women, when choosing a mate, consciously or unconsciously seek out good genetic qualities in their men. I'm sure that this is going on to some extent, but how important or common it is, I dunno.

2. Is group selection, as advocated most notably by the evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson, a viable process for explaining things like altruism or can this be explained entirely by selection at the organism or gene level?

Humans are very altruistic. This has probably been burned into our genes for millions of years, back to the more primitive primates. Lots of animals cooperate, sometimes while hunting or feeding, and we can see it all around us in our behavior. The only exception is our tribalism, which also seems hereditary. We view other tribes as enemies and have wars, discrimination, and the like.

We all inhabit this small blue planet, but a look at a map will show a large number of nations, or tribes. Each has its own agenda for survival, and this leads to things like war. If we could only get rid of that, the species would have a better chance. Now we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy ourselves. It is a miracle that we haven't had a nuclear war somewhere in the world. Now some of the tribes have the ability to totally destroy their rivals. Destroying themselves in the process. The only reason to launch a nuclear counter strike is simply a sting back. That hangs over us like a sword.

3. What is the likelihood that the emergence of life on a planet will lead to intelligent life given 100s of millions or billions of years of evolution to work with.

This is really a tough one. We know that life began on Earth as soon as it had cooled enough to be habitable by life. We only have a sample of one, but using it, it seems that life is pretty easy to start.

Despite that, life hung around as single celled organisms for billions of years. It took the Cambrian Explosion, only 550 million years or so ago, to bring complex, multicellular life. So complex life took a long time to happen. This could mean that much life elsewhere is simple. They may not have had a Cambrian Explosion on most planets.

So..from our sample of one, simple life seems to happen easily. Complex life is probably much rarer, and intelligent species like ours has taken hundreds of millions of years to arise since the Cambrian Explosion. We have been around for almost 2 million years, but it took us most of that time to move beyond stone tools. Native Americans used stone tools. They had no metallurgy, but the middle east did, and it spread to Europe.

We are seeing an explosion in technology. 10,000 years ago we were using the same stone tools that go back over 3 million years. Prior hominid species were using stone tools.

Anyway, look at today, then stop and consider how quickly things have happened. Homo Sapiens has totally altered nearly every inch of the Earth, and if he were so inclined, could.

This is new.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 29, 2015 - 12:46pm PT
lThe most mysterious part, to me, is how, in an emergent species, the females "know" how to select those males having the new, fitter gene(s).

Eeyonkee, individually they don't know is my guess. Natural selection does the deciding of evolutionary choice?

Thanks for your thoughts. Punctuated equilibrium seems to work here as elsewhere in nature?

DMT
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 29, 2015 - 03:13pm PT
DMT, the only real thing that matters is passing on your DNA. If you can survive long enough to do that, you win.

Nature has differing methods. Some species compete, like bull elk fighting during the rut. With others it is a simple orgy.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jul 29, 2015 - 03:40pm PT
I saw something really interesting the other day. Science Channel probably. It runs in the other room while I work.

This company not only does in-vitro fertilization, but they let the embryo grow to a small amount. 32 cells or so.

They take one of the cells from each egg and then run their genomes through a database looking for known genetic diseases.

They then pick the best egg and implant that one in the mother. It is expensive, but you can screen for certain genetic diseases. A woman was using it to make sure that she didn't pass on her breast cancer gene.

This has all sorts of implications, and I would bet that we will see them in the next 20 years. Our evolution will happen in a lab, and there might even be a higher class of human created, much like the film, Gattica.

Boy does that raise a lot of ethical questions. Imagine genetically engineered humans. It will almost certainly happen if we don't blow ourselves up first.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 29, 2015 - 06:26pm PT
I too saw the piece to which your post referred.

I agree with your post.

Regarding eugenics 21st century style (cf: eugenics early 20th century German and American styles), it's too powerful to stop.
Ultimately it's power, combined with other powers, will probably save us, I think.

I wish we could all be born again - as these are very exciting times indeed. Unfortunately, like C Hitchens, we of this generation are all going to be told sooner or later it is time to leave the party and are going to be shown the door. :(
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