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Author Topic: Evolution in action?  (Read 29625 times)
Nil Einne
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Re: Evolution in action?
« Reply #120 on: April 08, 2007, 06:47:12 pm »

I came across this discussion and couldn't help but comment. It's not often you come across such die hard anti-evolutionists... Don't want to comment that much tho so I'm unlikely to be back after this. But I've noticed several rather silly things in these arguments. Firstly claims that something is more or less evolved is meaningless. Evolution is directionless and doesn't have a purpose. Something may be closer to the ancestorial form but it doesn't mean it's less evolved. Also don't assume something is the same as the ancestorial form just because the fossils look similar. It's rather likely that there are many significant differences between an ancestorial crocodile and a modern crocodile even though they may look similar. This is even more important when it comes to things like e.g. comparing humans to other apes and monkeys. All apes have evolved in their own way, as have monkeys. You can't say that a orangutan is 'less evolved' then a human or chimpanzee just because we split off later. If you start talking about monkey's having stopped evolving or asking silly questions like why don't monkey's evolve into humans, you should stop talking now and read read read. I haven't noticed anyone RTyp06 or anyone else say such things but some of the comments seem to be verging on this so this  may be useful.

Also, Rtyp06 has brought up a lot of supposed evidence against evolution like how the brain works and other such nonsense. Why don't you try asking people involved in such research whether they think their research shows what you claim? Oh that's right they've been indocrinated to believe in evolution right? Why do you trust their research at all then? Maybe they have no idea what they're talking about and the brain doesn't work like they say it does?

And please, don't say there are scientists who don't believe in evolution. Firstly, I personally don't think it's particularly relevant if a physicist doesn't believe in evolution anymore then it's relevant that a biologist doesn't believe in string theory. Secondly, even though there are biologists who don't believe in evolution, they are an extreme minority. If you don't believe that, there's no use talking any further and if you do believe it, then why bring the matter up at all?

Also, contrary to what some people believe, many die hard evolutionists do in fact want to teach the controversy. Just not the contoversy you're talking about. The controversy you're talking about is made up and mostly shows a lack of understanding of the basics of evolution. But there is still a lot we don't know about evolution and a lot of debate that they would gladly be tought. E.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/feature/story/0,13026,1559743,00.html

Incidentally, I know protein structure and also the genome have barely come up in these arguments. These, especially the convergent evolution and the conservation aspects are good evidence for evolution. A little technical perhaps but I would have thought that anyone who has spent as much time studying evolution as Rtyp06 claims to would have studied them to some degree.

Finally, since there is a lot of talk of 'diseases' why don't you consider sickle-cell anaemia (and similar diseases).

BTW, I find some of the comments on this page extremely amusing

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The Duckbilled platupus is among a very few species of egg laying mammals yet nobody is casting these living animals as missing links between reptiles or birds to mammals.
Um........ That's because it's a modern mammal? Perhaps this arises from your apparent confused belief that things stop evolving. They don't. The duckbilled platypus is not the same thing as it's ancestor...

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Well not really. Chemical coded life is informational in nature. Computers are informational in nature. there is a much higher corellation between the two. Computers can easily be used to manipulate amino acid sequences. These new sequences can then be sequenced into the genome of a species. This is reality in the 21st century and is in fact being done. Companies are putting patents on designer genes in fact.

Now, If those evolutionary programs you linked to were a representation of natural evolution, we should be able to easily evolve organisms in the same way and  then sequence the results into living examples of evolution.
Um there are two very big problems with this idea:
1) The programs are not complex enough
2) Our computers don't even come close to be able to do this with their current processing power, especially not in the timeframe you seem to be thinking

You must understand, while bioinformatics is incredibly important to molecular biologists, it's still only very rudimentary (so it genetic modification as someone else mentioned). 'Designer genes' aren't usually created in a computer. Or not really. They originate from some source. Genes may be modified to some extent to help create more stable (or whatever) proteins. Promoters may be added. But the experimental side is still vital. Someone doesn't say well I want an enzyme to convert X to Y and make it. They find one, then work out how to adapt it for their purpose and then keep trying until it works.

Also, structural prediction is also in it's infacy. Some success has been achieved via various forms of comparative modelling but de novo prediction is still virtually non existant. Similarly the protein interactome as a whole is something that is only beginning to be analysed.

My point being then there is clearly no way in hell we can do any of the stuff your suggesting. Evolutionary models are interesting in a number of ways but they cannot and will not be able to achieve what you seem to think they should anytime soon.

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Excellent points. However I'm not disputing reasons it would inprove our survival, I'm asking what selection pressures would push us into developing language through evolution. Language is a complicated process envolving our lungs, vocal chords, memory capacity etc.. And sure our unique brains give us great works of art and science but it also gives us great destructive powers. Hitler, Pol Pot, Napolean etc. It is perhaps our big brains that may ultimately be our undoing.
Um what have you been smoking. Our lungs, vocal folds, memory capacity almost definitely evolved way, way before we 'evolved' language (we probably didn't evolved language per se but anyway). Most land based vertebrates can make noises (which they used to communicate) and have lungs. Various parrots are good imitators of human speech. The aparatus for language therefore doesn't actually require language to exist. While there have obviously been adaptations to our vocal folds and lungs which has helped us with language, it's clearly not a case of us suddenly evolving these for language. Similarly, memory obviously predates language. Most mammals have a memory of some sort. Of course it's not just memory but more complicated brain functions that are essential for language. But again, there are unlikely to (initially anyway) be specific to language. They enabled us to do many things differently and more successfully. Build better tools etc. And yes one of the advantages was probably the ability to communicate with a greater level of complexity. Remember that an evolutionary advantage doesn't have to be in one specific area. Most are probably in a number of areas.

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Natural Selection is fact an can account for much in the arena of survival of the fittest. Specifically the mechanical systems of the animal. Longer legs, sharper teeth, wider habitat etc. But what about the features that don't seem to offer a direct survival advantage? For example, is the individual really more "fit" if it has say a 5% better hearing than it's contemporaries? So maybe it can hear slightly better,see slightly better, taste better etc. but these are not  nessicarily a distinct survival advantage and one would think they'd be just as competitive with their close family members.
For someone who quotes a lot of statistics, it's amazing you don't appear to apply it to your own arguments. Assuming better hearing is an advantage (i.e. increases the likelihood you will have successful offspring) in the environment the animal is in then of course this 5% better hearing will be an advantage. If it's an inherit trait then it will be an evolutionary advantage. It's silly to suggest otherwise. It may not be a great advantage. it may not mean you're likely to have 2x the number of successful offspring. It may just be 5% more successful offspring (although it could easily be more then that). These offspring will similarly have 5% (or whatever) more successful offspring. Of course, things won't stop here. Another change might improve the hearing yet again. This is how evolution works. It doesn't require remarkable more successful offspring. This is obviously a very simple model since as someone else pointed out, there are many many traits. And of course your assuming the improved hearing doesn't come at a cost in some other area.

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Except that A) There is no proof whatsoever that we are losing our tailbone or appendix and B) Both are important . The tailbone is an anchor point for muscles and any doctor removing a healthy appendix today would probably lose his/her medical liscense for malpractice. Sure we can live without it but as is so without tonsils or perhaps a kidney.
You're seemingly mixing up different things. Firstly, the function (if any) of the appendix and the tonsils is in some dispute. They appear to be part of the lymphatic system and probably serve some non-essential function but they don't appear to be that important. There is considerably debate about when they should be removed but I don't think many people will compare their removal to the removal of a kidney. The functions of kidneys are fairly well appreciated. Most people can survive with one kidney and sometimes even with a piece of kidney. The kidney does have the ability to regenerate and grow in response. However I don't think anyone would saying having only one kidney is ideal. There are definite disadvantages to only having one kidney (the lack of a 'backup' amongst them).

P.S. A highly political area but there is considerable debate whether race is a meaningful concept genetically speaking.
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