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Top 10 Evolutionary Adaptations

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the don't-make-me-choose-between-my-brain-and-sex dept.

Science 716

oneill40 writes "The New Scientist has an interesting article up listing the Top 10 most amazing things to have evolved, including sex, death, the eye, language and parasites!" From the article:"Sponges are a key example of multicellular life, an innovation that transformed living things from solitary cells into fantastically complex bodies. It was such a great move, it evolved at least 16 different times. Animals, land plants, fungi and algae all joined in." J adds: Number four, Language, got a careful look from Carl Zimmer a while back. It's Pinker vs. Chomsky, winner take all, pass the popcorn!

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language (4, Funny)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179347)

AS FAR as humans are concerned, language has got to be the ultimate evolutionary innovation.

really? by reading slashdot, it feels more like devolution to me! :)

Re:language (4, Funny)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179432)

Don't worry- most of the population of /. is very unlikely to reproduce.

I'm not so sure... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179507)

You have russian brides delivered. And there are some women who REALLY want citizenship.

Re:language (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179440)

It's a double-edged sword. Human evolution has given us American English, by far the most robust and versatile human language; and it also has given us French, a guttural cow-sounding noise which can't be used to express complex thoughts.

Sorta like the difference between perl and MS batch.

Dude... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179574)

When the french wake up tomorrow, they totally going to take this out on some confused canadian tourists.

OMG n0 w4y!!111 (3, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179461)


really? by reading slashdot, it feels more like devolution to me! :)

OMG u R teh st00p1D!!11!eleventy-leven!!WTFBBQQED!!111!

Gah - how can people actually communicate that way? That sentence alone (such as it was) made me feel icky.

Perhaps Coneasfast is correct...

Re:language (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179599)

Indeed, One only needs to mention his boxen have a mile long log file from virii trying to establish a connection to get the pedants jumping up and down on their soap box screaming to stop the evolution of language.

DNA - Missing from the list (4, Insightful)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179348)

How about DNA? It's contains all genetic information that determines how cells are formed and how they behave. It's what allows cells to copy the essence of themselves from one generation to the next, and allows them to continue on the platform from where the last generation left off. If our cells weren't packing around little mini protein 'storage devices', not a whole lot would be happening.

And More... (4, Funny)

Psiolent (160884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179445)

My four favorite things produced by evolution: yeast, barley, hops, and monks.

Re:DNA - Missing from the list (1)

TheWhaleShark (414271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179455)

I think, and mind you that I haven't been academically involved in science for almost a year now (just got back into the field recently), that the actual evolution of DNA is still the subject of much debate, so it's unclear as to just how it came about in the first place. I would imagine that's why it's not included in the "Top 10 Inventions" list.

It's also possible that people think DNA was just always around and so isn't exactly an invention, which is untrue as far as science knows, or at least that I recall. Someone correct me if I'm off the mark.

Re:DNA - Missing from the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179606)

You're correct that DNA has always been around. Rocks also reproduce using DNA.

Re:DNA - Missing from the list (4, Insightful)

tijnbraun (226978) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179608)

Probably RNA came first..
It is less stable than DNA but is has shown to be able of enzymatic activity.
RNA is still used as a katalytic agent in cells (rRNA for example).
It therefore possess two very import biologic attributes: it can hold information and it can influence its environment by means of katalysis.

So it could be the ultimate first replicator.

It was a very popular hypothesis (don't know if it still is) that life started with RNA (google for "RNA world" or something)

DNA didn't "evolve" as per the theory of evoluion. (4, Interesting)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179509)

It's what allows cells to copy the essence of themselves from one generation to the next, and allows them to continue on the platform from where the last generation left off.

And if you don't have DNA, you don't have imperfectly-replicating life forms, which means that you don't have evolution. As such, you cannot use evolution to go from the stage where there is no DNA to where there is, because it involves at least one step where you don't have reproducing life forms.

Re:DNA - Missing from the list (2, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179512)

AIUI DNA's just a bit more durable than RNA and doesn't really have major advantages over it. You can have a perfectly good organism without any DNA, just use RNA for all the stuff and have polyploidy or something to protect you.

Re:DNA - Missing from the list (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179589)

really? why have scientists proven otherwise recently?

a pair of mutated plants were asexually reproduced. Nither of them had copies of the correct DNA.

the offspring there was a significant amount of them that were perfect. I.E. exactly like the grandparents.

RNA seems to carry that information also.

How'd this make it past the editors? (0, Redundant)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179349)

Yawn. How boring.

Bad News (5, Funny)

A Boy and His Blob (772370) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179350)

Sex may even be responsible for keeping life itself going: species that give it up almost always go extinct within a few hundred generations.
Bad news for geeks everywhere. The best I can figure is that at some point in the future my genetic material will double and I will split in half.

And talk about missing options sheesh! Best evolutionary adaptation? I vote breasts!

Re:Bad News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179425)

Take it with a pile of salt. Religious fundamentalists are so uptight about sex and yet they breed like rats...

Beat to the Punch (1)

DrinkingIllini (842502) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179444)

I was about to make the exact same joke. Had my post typed up already and everything.

Re:Beat to the Punch (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179481)

You can post it the second time this article appears on the Slashdot front page.

Re:Bad News (1)

nappingcracker (700750) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179610)

sheesh, tough crowd

predictable, to some; I wouldnt stake as troll

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179351)

Just had to do it. FP!!!!!!!!

Re:FP (1)

introverted (675306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179393)

Just had to do it. FP!!!!!!!!

No, I'm fairly certain that First Posts are an evolutionary disadvantage.

Death? (1, Informative)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179354)

Death? Maybe it's just me but I'd consider death an evolutionary failure.

Immortality, now that would be a nice adaptation!

Re:Death? (5, Insightful)

Nopal (219112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179419)

Death is what allows evolution to occur in the first place. Without death, organisms couldn't be replaced by ever improving versions of themselves.

Re:Death? (3, Insightful)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179422)

They really should have said programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

Speculating a reason for death... (1)

vivin (671928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179505)

I would think that programmed cell-death is also a way of making sure we don't have runanway growth... which is precisely what happens in cancer.

I'm just speculating here, but what's to say that we didn't have "immortality" at the cellular level before? Perhaps cancer cells are a throwback to this earlier form. Everyone knows that cancer cells keep reproducing until they take down the host with them. That's not a very successful strategy. Perhaps there were organisms that kept growing and reproducing without dying. Eventually the environment couldn't support them, and they could have all died. A strategy around this was probably to have programmed cell death whereby the cells would die off after a certain number of divisions. That way, the population would be somewhat constant, and there wouldn't be such a burden on resources. Furthermore, the dead cells could actually return some of the consumed resources back to the environment. In the long run, this would be more favourable... but once again, I am merely speculating.

Re:Death? (1)

nappingcracker (700750) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179584)

Ahh, immortality.

Death is not an evolutionary failure, but a function of life and reproduction. If the reproductive rate is too high, and lifespan too long, the species will outrun its environmental resources. If the reproductive rate is low, the lifespan must increase to sustain the species.

Death is great, as it promotes a sustainable environment for life to continue and for maladaptations to make way for better adaptations (yah, tell that to the maladapted).

Life needs death, or an ever expanding set of resources, else life does not perpetuate.

Enter the machines and their source of endlessly multiplying batteries, or gigantic space wasps combing the universe for more resources. Humans need to 1) control reproduction 2) be smarter about resources 3)have fewer humans 4) get off this flying umbrella

So far, we have only mastered #3, and we still are not very good at that. grumblegrumblepinkgoogrumblegrumble

The single most amazing evolutionary adaptation is (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179355)

The single most amazing evolutionary adaptation is undoubtedly YOU. That a mouth breathing dolt, such as yourself, has been able to survive at all, let alone this long, defies all logic and brings the entire theory of evolution into question.

In fact, if ever there was evidence of an omnipotent diety, YOU are it! Obviously, God exists and in your case, he had a terrible accident!

Language genetic vs. memetic (2, Insightful)

Philosinfinity (726949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179356)

Without reading one of the supplementary articles...
I am not buying language as an object of biological evolution at all. At best, it seems to be an expressed meme, rather than a genetic advancement, or a trait that can be selected for. Also, I am not buying the facts expressed in the article abotu language. Haven't we taught chimps and apes sign language? Aren't there example of such creatures telling us things spontaneously (the most recent example was when the chimp told some scientists that it had a mildly severe toothache)? It doesn't seem that language is merely confined to humans, but it further seems like a learned trait rather than a biological trait. For instance, even if we had the biological capacity for language, there does not seem to be an inherant argument for the actual expression of language. In other words, an organism may have the capacity to express a meme-like trait, but may never actually express it. Thus, in humans, the capacity to understand language may be selected for, but the language usage itself is a socially learned trait. Also I would wonder if we never began using our capacity for language, then if the capacity may be biologically selected for, but if the utility of that capacity is never expressed, then why is the gene for that capacity being selected for?

Re:Language genetic vs. memetic (5, Insightful)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179489)

The capacity to develop and understand evolution is something biological. Otherwise, every animal could learn a language just as complex.

Re:Language genetic vs. memetic (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179524)

And by evolution, I obviously meant language. But you knew that...

Re:Language genetic vs. memetic (1)

Philosinfinity (726949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179550)

Definitely. I guess I didn't say what I was getting at well. Let's try it again, differently.

The capacity for language is genetic. However, the actual use of that capacity is a learned trait (something like a meme).
More than likely, the use developed several generations after the capacity came about in the gene pool.
Why then, would the linguistic phenotype be selected for when it is not being utilized by those first few generations?

Re:Language genetic vs. memetic (4, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179555)

I find it amusing that profanity is apparantly universal. Chimps/gorillas are never taught sign language for any profanity, but they regularly invent a sign for "shit" and use it as profanity. This is usually translated as "dirty" in scientific publication. ;)

It's almost too easy... (5, Funny)

TheBrownShow (454945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179361)

"It's true that many species, including insects, lizards and plants, do fine without sex, at least for a while." ... don't forget about Slashdot readers... ZING!

As a devout Christian American... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179364)

I think it's sickening that these ungodly crackpot liberals continue to advocate this blasphemous "evolution" idealogy and challenge the Word of G-d as written in the Holy Bible. May Jesus save us all from this satanic vitrol.

Re:As a devout Christian American... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179439)

The use of the dash in "G-d" is a Jewish custom.

Re:As a devout Christian American... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179534)

Oh, and I thought it was short of Gi-had.

incomplete list (3, Funny)

Arctic Dragon (647151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179368)

How could they omit the female human breast?

Re:incomplete list (1)

TheWhaleShark (414271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179482)

Insightful.

A breast comment was modded insightful.

I love this place. :p

Re:incomplete list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179486)

Or the WIKIPEDIA!

http://mrpalmguru.com/uncyclopedia/ [mrpalmguru.com]

that rocks!

What about the thumb? (5, Interesting)

Jason_D_Berg (745832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179370)

Weird. I would have expected to see an opposable thumb on that list. I mean, isn't that kind of important for us? Or maybe I'm just being too human-centric.

Re:What about the thumb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179601)

At the very least Ebert & Roeper would be out of a job.

Re:What about the thumb? (4, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179607)

Originally it was on the list, but it got the thumbs down.

The most amazing evolutionary result... (5, Funny)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179375)

Creationists.

*ducks*

disagree. (1, Funny)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179397)

I disagree. The most amazing result would have to be republicans.

Re:disagree. (0, Redundant)

genrader (563784) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179401)

I disagree. It would have to be Democrats.

Re:disagree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179470)

Can't be. That would be Devolutionary.

Re:The most amazing evolutionary result... (2, Funny)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179471)

Yeah, I find ducks to be pretty amazing, too...

Re:The most amazing evolutionary result... (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179480)

Bwahahah! You definitely deserve your Funny moderations. :)

Why the Eye is not a proof of "intelligent design" (3, Informative)

vivin (671928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179595)

When you mentioned creationists, I just had to bring this up. Creationists frequently talk about the Eye being proof of "intelligent design", or the evidence of God's Hand. They actually fail to realize the flaws in the human eye. For example:

  1. Photoreceptors are backward
  2. Images formed upside down
  3. Blind spot, causing deficiencies (although the brain adapts) in vision.


You don't see any of these deficiencies in an octopuses' eye. So God's supposed "crowning creation" has worse vision than the lowly octopus?

The sexual evolution! (4, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179378)

Didn't that happen in the 60's?

"However useful sex may be now that we've got it, that doesn't tell us anything about how it got started"

Are they kidding? I'm sure it was a 'double dog dare' on a Tuesday afternoon in the garden of eden.

Re:The sexual evolution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179479)

Brought you by, AIDS

Revolution (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179494)

That's REVOLUTION...dude.

Now pass the pipe *FFFtttttttt....aahhhhhhh*

close, but (1)

Savatte (111615) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179545)

that's how we got anal

Reason for sex! (1)

vivin (671928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179568)

However useful sex may be now that we've got it, that doesn't tell us anything about how it got started

Well, I recall reading somewhere that there is an evolutionary basis. In organisms that reproduce asexually, there is a direct copying from the parent to the child. A retrovirus (or some other parasite) could easily include its genetic code into the host, thereby continuing into the next generation. In sexual reproduction, you have two copies that merge, well half of each. This reduces the chance for parasites to hijack the reproduction mechanism, enabling us to stay one step ahead of them.

Also, it feels REALLY REALLY GOOD.

How could they have forgotten (1, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179381)

Farting at will and belching your abc's?

Oh, and sex is defintely #1 in the top 10. Which would you rather have, eyesight or an orgasm? :)

Re:How could they have forgotten (2, Insightful)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179517)

I certainly appreciate orgasms, and I hope to have thousands more in my lifetime, but I would score sightedness above orgasms without hesitation.

Re:How could they have forgotten (1)

damnnicks (114314) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179551)

And if we didn't have eyesight we would all be a lot less picky and get to have even more orgasms!

Well, the proportion of unassisted orgasms would decrease at least...

Re:How could they have forgotten (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179587)

Well the closest thing many people here will get to an orgasm is seeing one on their pr0n.

what about alcohol metabolism? (2, Funny)

tuxette (731067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179383)

Time for another beer...

Re:what about alcohol metabolism? (2, Insightful)

MojoSF (658720) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179557)

Seriously, the ability to metabolize alcohol made "civilization" possible.

An article several years ago in Scientific American gave some historical background on the history of distilling technology and the creation of cities.

As soon as people started living in cities, they started polluting their water supply. Brewed and distilled spirits were the only safe source of water.

Re:what about alcohol metabolism? (3, Interesting)

tuxette (731067) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179622)

As soon as people started living in cities, they started polluting their water supply. Brewed and distilled spirits were the only safe source of water.

This is true. I've travelled a bit in Europe and have done the tourist things like the guided tours of whatever castle or fortress, and there's always the story about how the soldiers were rationed x amount of beer a day, because the water was too unsafe to drink, and, well, nobody had any use of a sick soldier (drunken soldiers are a whole other issue :). You also hear similar stories when you do brewery and winery tours.

Fine Journalism (1, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179384)

And the 11th most amazing thing to "evolve"?

11. The ability to create unparalleled controversy by publishing a story that is intended to incite heated argument between two equally strong factions.

Where would we be without journalists? (Probably without the Spanish-American war for one..)

Re:Fine Journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179447)

11. The ability to create unparalleled controversy by publishing a story that is intended to incite heated argument between two equally strong factions.

Those factions being...?

Re:Fine Journalism (2, Insightful)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179562)

Where would we be without journalists? (Probably without the Spanish-American war for one..)

and where would we be with journalists? Probably without the iraq war for once.

Re:Fine Journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179579)

Uh huh. Because they seem to have stopped it so well.

Re:Fine Journalism (1)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179604)

umm..that was a sarcastic remark. Just to be clear, if we had journalists (i.e real journalists), we would not have had iraq war..see?

Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (3, Interesting)

Japong (793982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179388)

I really wish one of those researchers would spend some time responding to this guy, the owner of a website called Evolution, a Fairytale for Grownups! [evolutionfairytale.com] A lot of the features mentioned in the article come up on his site, although argued against in an un-proffesional manner (for more adult discussion he also posts debates that he's won.

For all the evidence presented by popular media and through the education system, there seem to be a lot of people, including scientists, who can't accept evolutionary theory, and dismiss it as propaganda. [darwinism-watch.com]

Considering the recent "Just a theory" textbook-sticker fiasco, there are a lot of big divides going on in America right now. Now, since this is Slashdot, the responses are going to be quite biased, but do you Americans find that a lot of friends, co-workers and family don't accept evolutionary theory?

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (1)

Pinefresh (866806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179453)

I used to not, but I was educated in private schools, so I was just a bit brainwashed.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0, Troll)

Swamii (594522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179536)

As opposed to public schools, which would have you believe evolution is infallible, and anything that teaches otherwise is automatically false.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (-1, Flamebait)

Swamii (594522) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179487)

Be prepared to get modded down by all who believe evolution is infallible (i.e. the large majority of Slashdot).

Clearly evolution is fallible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179603)

you got here.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179500)

Popular presentation of evoltuion, including what I was taugt in high-school biology, are so dumbed down as to be incorrect. The creationists have an easy time attacking what's commonly presented as "evolution". I don't think evolution is really that hard to teach (aside from the controversy), and the actual beliefs of scientists about evolution are far, far more credible. How did we go so wrong here?

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0, Flamebait)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179502)

well, evolution is just a theory. if you don't accept that then you cant claim to be a scientist. Evolution has not been proven in a lab it does explain some phenomena so it is the current theory.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0)

richieb (3277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179560)

well, evolution is just a theory. if you don't accept that then you cant claim to be a scientist

So is theory of eletricity.... Do you believe in electricity? Ever seen an eletron?

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179581)

"Just a theory" is a (probably deliberate) misunderstanding of how science uses the word "theory". There is not a level of truthfulness above "theory". "Theory" is a good as it gets, a "law" is just a thaoery that can be stated concisely.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179582)

I think you have hypothesis and theory mixed up.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179549)

The difficulty with the folks who do not accept evolutionary ideas is that they tend to be extremely narrow in their perspective and logic is simply not part of their thought process. What the Bible says is right, and they will justify that righteousness regardless of the number of mental hoops through which they have to jump. Add to that the notion that your neighbor's sins affect you as well and the current situation is easy to understand.

The solution? Likely not to happen while Christian Conservatives still hold popular sway in politics, nor until science figures out how to convey its teachings to the lowest common denominator.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (1)

TheWhaleShark (414271) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179558)

Evolution is by and large still misunderstood by the majority of people that do not have formal scientific education. It is in fact a failure of pre-college education to present it properly, and the ever-present misunderstandings that further confuse people.

I'm always curious to see what most people think evolution actually is. I see it confused with abiogenesis (life from non-life) very often, and I suspect that has a lot to do with why it is misunderstood.

Also, please note that the word "theory" is often used rather incorrectly and out-of-context; a scientific theory has quite a lot of evidence and logic behind it, but hasn't been tested as thoroughly as it could. Most people seem to use "theory" when they should be using "hypothesis."

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179594)

I'll believe it until someone comes along with a better explanation backed up by examples and evidence(fossil record, moths turning from white to black in industrial revolution around britain). I accept evolution just like I accept most currently accepted theories, because it's the best we have and it has yet to be disproven. It's like answering with 100% certianty, do you exist, there is no evidence against it and a lot of evidence for it, so I accept it. It seems as if most people who are against evolution, can only find slight flaws. How about a better solution that has more evidence behind it? It shouldn't even be a god issue. If god is all powerful, he created evolution but it is still something that happens. It doesn't mean he doesn't exist.

Re:Trying to get a feel for evolution in america - (0)

richieb (3277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179596)

For all the evidence presented by popular media and through the education system, there seem to be a lot of people, including scientists, who can't accept evolutionary theory [...]

I like to ask people who do not believe that evolution is true, why they are not afraid to go on elevators.

Because, if all the physics and chemistry that supports theory of evolution is false, then there is no way that elevators would work. :)

YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179389)

On the day of the Pope's funeral, you post an evolution article like this?!?!?!?

Not even Bender was that callous.

Re:YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179501)

Yes, and if this were 500 years ago, the church would have reacted to this sort of story with violence...

Re:YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD!!! (2, Funny)

lgw (121541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179623)

There is a solar eclipse today, a sure sign that the gods are mocking the Pope and his "one true god". :)

Photosynthesis (4, Insightful)

jestill (656510) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179410)

Photosynthesis is definitely the top for me. It changed the chemistry of the entire planet. Of course the human brain has done the same, but we will soon be extinct and out impact rather small compared to photosynthesis.

Summon Bevets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179411)

Has he made his way to /. yet?

Only Humans (1)

bitswapper (805265) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179414)



"Only human brains are able to produce language"

Now if only they could evolve coherent thought to power the language adaptation.

Hell, even in the movie Firestarter the chickens knew to flee eminent firestarting activity whilst government agents watched said chickens run for it...

survival in the wild now depends on only 2 things: (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179420)

T and A.

I must say, though, leaving out the evolution of the opposable thumb is pretty shocking. Without an opposable thumb, how do I press the button on my digital watch?!

Re:survival in the wild now depends on only 2 thin (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179561)

I'd use one of your fingers. Or just have your pet monkey do it-- whichever is most convenient.

So amazing that ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179426)

So amazing that some would say mere chance isn't enough, that there had to be some intelligence behind their design. :D

number 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179430)

homosexuality.. becasue..because it's natural damn it ! i can't prove it but it is !

More from Carl Zimmer: Resurrecting the Genome (4, Interesting)

vivin (671928) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179437)

Somewhat along the same lines, Carl Zimmer also talked about "resurrecting the genome" of a mammalian ancestor from about 80 million years ago. Snippets of the genome are present in all mammals today. By comparing the genomes of various mammals, they were able to come up with a pretty good approximate of the genome. This chart [nytimes.com] shows how much of the original genome different mammals have. Surprisingly, humans have lost only 25% of the original genome, whereas rats and mice have lost more than twice that. I would have thought otherwise since the earliest mammals were shrewlike... but I'm not a biologist/geneticist/whoever studies these things.

He also wrote this article some time ago that talked about Resurrecting the Genome [corante.com] . Here [corante.com] is another article (by him) on the same topic, that appeared on NY Times.

So... (-1, Flamebait)

eomnimedia (444806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179449)

...I went out to one of the local junkyards, rigged some explosives and blew-up a pile of junked metal. After all the dust settled, there it was -- a nice new Ferrari that had evolved from the big bang.

Evolution. Yeah, right.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179602)

wow. just, wow.

i tip my hat to you, sir. i could never, in a million years, come up with something that assinine.

you, sir, are a paragon of evolution in action.

Stupid Article - This is news? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179525)

Waste of my time

Evolution is Blind (4, Insightful)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179529)

Please, for the love of God (or Darwin if you're so inclined), Stop anthropromorphizing evolution!

I'm not accusing the people who anthropromorphize as being bad scientists - I'm sure that they have the proper understanding of evolution and natural selection and similar concepts within their mind. However, what you have to realize is that your audience may not. Making consistent use of words like innovation and discovery, and general verbs associated with multicellular life makes the article sound more like journalism than science.

I realize that it's probably convenient to not have to worry about portraying modern evolutionary theory in the right manner, but it's also responsible. I wouldn't be bringing this up if I didn't run into it every single day - we anthropromorphize to such a degree that eventually we ourselves begin to believe that evolution really is a deliberate mechanism that acts towards creating the "perfect" life form.

  • Different species do not "discover" new and better ways to hunt down their prey, or to conduct photosynthesis.
  • Natural selection is "differential success in reproduction."
  • If you are going to characterize evolutionary progress as a group of 12 monkeys on a typewriter and infinite time, then they would not produce Shakespeare as a final product because they wouldn't know when they had it!

Linux?? (1)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12179544)

I can't believe Linux isn't on there!!

It's an adaptation in response to commercial software companies, and it was(is) evolutionary!!

Programmed cell death? What is the evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12179598)

Were early cells missing this trait. Were original cells immortal? Is there any evidence that this trait evolved from cell lines that were inherently endlessly dividing?
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