the-star-stuff:

Animal Wonders of Evolution

The evolution of life has not been an orderly affair. Every time a biological age is swept aside, a few creatures remain. Millions of years later, many are still with us.

Sometimes these animals are called “living fossils,” but it’s not a good term. After all, their lineages haven’t survived ice ages and warm spells and every natural upheaval just to be visualized in amber by some upstart hairless ape. A better term is “evolutionarily distinct.” They’re simply, impressively unique.

“Evolutionarily distinct creatures contain more genetic diversity. They look different. They tend to be behaviorally different. These are species that are different from everything else on the planet,” said Jonathan Baillie, conservation program director at EDGE of Existence.

EDGE stands for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered, which are the criteria of the animals it tries to protect. They’re not just singularly unique, but desperately imperiled and often unappreciated: Pangolins and purple frogs and Laotian rock rats don’t have the charisma of traditional conservation favorites, yet in some ways they’re more important. To use an art world analogy, losing an EDGE species isn’t like losing a Renoir or Monet, but the entirety of French Impressionism.

“We’ve grown up with rhinos and tigers and lions on TV. Our generation is quite familiar with those. It’s now possible expand conservation beyond that,” said Baillie. “By conserving EDGE creatures, you save a disproportionate amount of genetic, ecological and behavioral diversity.”

Source: Wired.com

Man. Evolution-related articles? INSTA-REBLOG. Look at that diversity! Natural selection is a bamf. 

(Source: Wired)

251 notes

Martin Hanczyc: the line between life and not-life

Dr. Hanczyc is a researcher at the University of Southern Denmark. His research interests lie in the realm of: what is the origin of life? And: what did the first living thing look like?

In this TED talk, he reveals some of his research. It’s important to note that while these experiments look like he generated living organisms, all of his experiments capitalize on already-existing bio mechanical and biochemical properties of the molecules he is using. However, as his results show, these can give us much insight into the kinds of mechanisms that the very first living things may have used to become living.

jtotheizzoe:

suzannecatty:

Evolution in your back yard:  Thousands of members of the public across Europe have taken part in one  of the largest evolutionary studies ever, by observing banded snails in  their gardens and open public spaces.
The expectation was that snail shells would have become lighter, as  protection from overheating in sunlight. This was only found to be the  case for snails sampled in sand dune habitat, where it is harder for the  snails to seek shelter from the heat of the sun. The evolutionary  change that was seen everywhere, however, was an unexpected increase in  the percentage of snails with a single dark spiral band around the  shell.

Citizen science!
Unfortunately, France was disqualified for continually eating their research materials with warm butter.

jtotheizzoe:

suzannecatty:

Evolution in your back yard:  Thousands of members of the public across Europe have taken part in one of the largest evolutionary studies ever, by observing banded snails in their gardens and open public spaces.

The expectation was that snail shells would have become lighter, as protection from overheating in sunlight. This was only found to be the case for snails sampled in sand dune habitat, where it is harder for the snails to seek shelter from the heat of the sun. The evolutionary change that was seen everywhere, however, was an unexpected increase in the percentage of snails with a single dark spiral band around the shell.

Citizen science!

Unfortunately, France was disqualified for continually eating their research materials with warm butter.

(via jtotheizzoe)

248 notes

sciencecenter:

Three prominent Harvard scientists, including EO Wilson, recently published a paper in which they argue that kin selection doesn’t explain anything and isn’t a valid form of natural selection. Kin selection is the idea that certain traits are selected for, not because they contribute to individual fitness, but instead because they contribute to the fitness of a tight social group. Simply put, the authors are wrong. When Nature published a series of critiques of the original article, one rebuttal was co-authored by 136 evolutionary biologists, and nearly every prominent scientist in the field was included.

So, if you’re a population biologist and also a blogger, and want to weigh in on the issue, what do you do? Well, naturally, you animate CGI bears to simulate the debate for you.

4 notes

via evogeneao.com

via evogeneao.com

12 notes

The Strange Case of Mademoiselle Cappelle: On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan

thestrangecase:

Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national survey of more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation’s…

The good ol’ debate.

(via thestrangecase-deactivated20110)

3 notes

Seriously? I wish I knew more details about these graphs (sample size, target survey group, etc.). From the looks of it, this is classic scientific illiteracy. It makes me sad.

Seriously? I wish I knew more details about these graphs (sample size, target survey group, etc.). From the looks of it, this is classic scientific illiteracy. It makes me sad.

Have Blue Eyes? You’re a Mutant!

I love telling people that!

Blue eyes are the result of a genetic mutation that limits the melanin producing gene OCA2, “diluting” brown eyes to blue. 

(Source: telegraph.co.uk)

14 notes

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

T. Dobzhansky

0 notes