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 The Evolutionary Hotseat Goto page 1234567891011121314 Previous  1, 2, 3 ... 12, 13, 14
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Chuck
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:32 pm    Post subject: 521
Thok
Oh, foe, the cursed teeth!

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:59 pm    Post subject: 522

 Zag wrote: Thok, I'm talking about water flowing to the lowest point (i.e. reducing its potential energy). Activating that is pretty easy. In fact, preventing it from happening is pretty hard -- water is very good at penetrating stuff, eventually.

This presumes that the way to lower total potential energy is to move the water, and not everything else.

And the penetrating everything is clearly false: if water penetrated everything quickly, it wouldn't be on the surface anymore and that has nothing whatsoever to do with continental drift.
Elethiomel
Daedalian Member

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:28 am    Post subject: 523

 Zag wrote: If the Earth were shrunk to the size of a billiard ball, and you could hold it, would you be able to feel the bumps where the highest mountains are? The answer is that the ball would be considerably smoother than a high quality billiard ball.

Pretty sure I already mentioned that.

 Zag wrote: The definition of "lowest point" when you consider all the water as a whole is such that the center of mass of the water is coincident with the center of mass of the rest of the Earth. This would imply that all the land which sticks up out of the water would not be all on one side of the sphere -- the water would try to equalize and would flow over until there is more of a balance.

I don't think your definition in the first sentence is entirely correct. (Or at least, it's surely incomplete.) The water could be orbiting the Earth as two blobs of water in outer space and still have a coinciding center of mass. Even so, I don't see the alleged implication. Isn't it rather the opposite? If a lot of land sticks out at one side of the Earth, the water would flow to the other side of the Earth to compensate, thus effectively raising the land at the point where it's already at its highest.

Essentially, what you are saying is that there cannot be a single pangea, because then the water would flow uphill in an effort to "equalize".

In fact, the oceans are a bit of an irrelevancy here, in my mind. The fact of the matter is that the Earth's crust isn't perfectly smooth (although smoother than a billiard ball). We could discuss why that is so, but I don't think the water has much to do with it. Water is a fluid, and will flow to the lowest points on the surface, creating oceans and continents. But what we're really talking about is the shape of the crust. If the water is to be considered relevant at all, it must have the ability to alter the shape of the crust.

So to repeat my earlier question, if the water did over time significantly alter the shape of the crust, why would it converge towards two continents? Why not zero continents, with a completely smooth crust and water covering everything?
extro...*
Guest

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:37 pm    Post subject: 524

Zag wrote:
extropalopakettle wrote:
Do you not agree this makes the case that there can be a single continent on one side of the planet?

extropalopakettle wrote:
 Zag wrote: ... if the continents were all piled up on one part of the Earth, then there should have been land on the other side of the Earth also sticking out of the water. Otherwise, the water would flow over the piled-up continents until a point of zero potential energy is reached

OK, another extreme example - perfectly spherical planet, with a tall thin obelisk in one place. The obelisk would shift the planets center of gravity toward it, so that if rain fell around the planet, it would flow away from a barely perceptible hill on the opposite side of the planet from the obelisk. As rain falls, for a while there would be two "islands" ... a very flat island opposite the obelisk, and the obelisk itself. But as more rain falls, the flat island is covered before the obelisk is.

Oh, I missed that one. Yes, I agree that would make for a single continent -- the top of the obelisk. I don't consider it realistic, however. I read recently a question: If the Earth were shrunk to the size of a billiard ball, and you could hold it, would you be able to feel the bumps where the highest mountains are? The answer is that the ball would be considerably smoother than a high quality billiard ball. My point is that the variations of the mountains are not enough to move the center of mass of the earth, even a little.

I'm not getting it. I agree, of course, that my example is unrealistic in degree, but suppose we gradually morph my example, of a single obelisk on one side of the planet, being the only solid protruding above a covering of water ... morph that obelisk, gradually changing it by shortening and widening to a more natural Pangaea. Where does it break down, and why? We start with "land" (the obelisk) in only one place. AQs the shape of that land gradually becomes more natural, at what point should land appear somewhere else, on the other side of the planet?

If I'm understanding your idea, all these other considerations of the mantle, the moon, etc, are complications not really relevant to the motivation behind your conclusion.
Chuck
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:11 am    Post subject: 525
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:35 pm    Post subject: 526 I was pondering the world the other day, and I was trying to do so from an evolutionary perspective when I realized that I don't know enough about it. These questions may have been answered elsewhere in here, but I'm lazy. I understand that one of the guiding principles (or perhaps the guiding principle) of evolution is that a species mutates randomly, and the qualities which are the most beneficial remain and evolve the species while the not useful qualities die out. So... - How did a single-celled organism evolve beyond that? Perhaps more pointedly, why? What makes more cells more beneficial to a previously single-celled organism? (I can imagine an answer of my own, but I would like an "evolutionist's" articulation.) - Where did plants come from? What was the reason for their evolution? - How did sentience evolve? I mean, if everything started from this single-celled organism and diverged at some point to make plants and animals, why did some animals evolve sentience while plants didn't? Those are my starters. If it's already been answered, maybe point me to the page? If the questions seem as though they are born out of ignorance...they are. They are honest questions, and while I'm a skeptic of some evolutionary principles, these are truly seeking to understand better the theory of evolution. (It's still a theory, right?)_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Thok
Oh, foe, the cursed teeth!

 Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:11 pm    Post subject: 527 One quick side note: don't think of evolution in terms of "survival of the fittest". A much more realistic way is "Genetics is written by those that survive and breed". (The point being that there is no well defined notion of "fittest", but surviving to breed is a well-defined notion. And it allows for a useful comparison to the phrase "History is written by the winners"; alternative specimens may have had strengths, but ultimately didn't breed.) For each of the suggestions you've mentioned, there are obvious reasons why things that suddenly had those abilities might find it easier to survive and breed. And other things may have just never gotten those abilities; that's luck of the draw.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:35 pm    Post subject: 528

This is, of course, speculation, but it's informed speculation.

The first "life" was probably prokaryotes
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prokaryote wrote: The prokaryotes ( /proʊˈkæri.oʊts/, pro-kah-ree-otes or /proʊˈkæriəts/, pro-kah-ree-əts) are a group of organisms whose cells lack a cell nucleus (karyon), or any other membrane-bound organelles.

The first ones could only live around the nutrient-rich areas around hot-water vents in the ocean. (They do exist, and simple amino acids form naturally in the right conditions.) There's actually a huge leap just to make something that can reproduce, and nobody really knows how that happened, but we'll start our journey after it has happened.

These first bacteria had a carbon helix inside a permeable membrane, such that it let in the right amino acids which would cause their carbon helix to grow in a unending duplication. When one grew too big, it would break the membrane, fall into pieces, and the two open ends of the membrane would naturally heal up, and there would be two cells.

RNA replication of this sort is not very reliable. Lots of replications would have errors, most of which would break the replicating process. That cell would die and not reproduce anymore. However, some few of the replication errors were productive. One caused small pockets within the cell membrane to form, where the pocket had some chemicals that would change a common amino acid to one that was also needed but we uncommon. The cell with this mutation (ribosomes) could drift farther from the heat vent and still survive and reproduce. Some drifted up near the surface, and the sunlight caused more changes. Amidst billions of cells broken by the sunlight, one managed to develop a new organelle, an improved version of the ribosome. This improved version could actually construct amino acids from parts, using the sun's energy to do it. The cells with these chloroplasts were no longer tied to the heat vents making the amino acids. They needed only the right elements and they could make them themselves. They probably swept over the earth in a mere millennium. (I'm guessing. Probably more knowledgeable people actually have real estimates.)

Other cells mutated in such a way that their cell walls tended to adhere to rocks and to each other. One managed to stick near a good source of nutrients. It quickly multiplied much faster than those cells that were at the mercy of the waves. Many of these grew colonies, just from their natural adherence. Most of the originators of these colonies died out as their descendants built impenetrable walls around them, but the ones on the outside continued to adhere and reproduce. Eventually one mutated into a cell wall that formed a looser lattice, such that water could flow through it. These cells were even more successful, because more than one generation could live at a time. Also, the lattice was weak enough that pieces of it could break off and start new colonies elsewhere. We call these sponges and corals.

And so on.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:29 am    Post subject: 529 That's a helpful distinction, Thok, though I already knew that "survival of the fittest" was an out-moded methodology for evolution. Okay, Zag, so where was the divergence of plants and animals? I just don't see that. Another random permutation that a certain breed developed that the others didn't? Also, where did sentience enter? Do plants have a low-level sentience that we don't know about? And are there certain mutations which we can talk about never occurring because there's no predisposition of sorts? For example humans growing wings. (Though of course, Marvel Comics would disagree.)_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:55 am    Post subject: 530 The mutation creating plants was already mentioned -- the initial chloroplasts (which create chlorophyll). Those are plants, and have their own, separate evolution. We're still a humongous way from sentience. I'll try to hit the highlights: Flexible, tubular structures are superior (i.e. more likely to survive and reproduce, in certain conditions) than spongy ones. Tubular structures that constrict in waves, pushing the high-nutrient water through them, are superior to those that can't. They can grow much bigger, farther from the nutrient source. There isn't much of a leap from these colonies of independent cells which happen just to be connected by their adhesive membranes, to those structures starting to include specialized regions. One group forms a pocket which captures some body that is potentially nutrient rich, but takes longer to break down (possibly it is some of the chloroplast-containing cells which have formed their own membrane structure protecting them from earlier versions of such attacks). The cell which tend to create such pockets succeed, as long as there is a mechanism by which they squeeze the super-nutritious results of the break-down to the rest of the structure. These structures of mildly-specialized, well-rooted tubular structures continue to grow and change. Lots of them break off, and most of these die. However, eventually some have morphed their constricting into actual locomotion, and they divert themselves back to the high-nutrient area. It's still a mistake to think about them doing this "on purpose." It's just that their "muscles" somehow are triggered by a difference in the amount of nutrients, such that they tend to move the object towards them. Of course, for this to work, there needs to be some mechanism by which the difference is detected, and it causes a signal which makes the right part of it squeeze, or wiggle, or whatever. Some versions of this free-moving animal develop different actions when different nutrients are "detected" and, lo, an olfactory system is born. Diversity flourishes. lots of different systems appear as these structures of not-quite-independent cells develop more specialized sections. Different structures for protection (hard shell), locomotion (tentacles), digestion, respiration, assorted detection (touch, light, sound waves) arise, and we haven't even formed anything more complicated than a worm or a mollusk. Sexual reproduction comes about, which allows for more reliable reproduction of a complex structure without completely stagnating mutation. Soon come arthropods -- crabs and lobsters -- with a primitive, chemical-based nervous system, with tubes that deliver the chemicals to run, to grab, to pull, etc. to the right muscles. These are replaced by electricity-based systems that work much better, and a hard shell forms around the critical bundle of "nerves" to protect it. This shell is made of similar structure to the outer shell, but with bands of an elastic version of it holding it together, making it tough but flexible. There are your vertebrates. Another huge round of diversity, and you have vertebrates eating each other, since another creature similar to yourself is always a good way to get lots of the kind of amino acids you need. The ability for like creatures to communicate spontaneously generates in a number of branches. The ants that can mark the way to the big food source with trail of pheromones that other ants follow tend to reproduce way faster than the insects that just go around on their own. Bees come up with better ways to communicate. Some predator fish succeed because they cooperate in cornering prey. Amphibians become reptiles. Reptiles become birds, and their brains increase significantly. (The ones that didn't couldn't fly.) Another, new type of brain appears with mammals, and the level of ability to communicate increase impressively. Wolves hunt in packs where each member has a specific role to play, one that has to be learned from another wolf. The ones that do it well, whose members can learn quickly and effectively, reproduce more than the ones who don't. The creatures which are preyed upon also develop communications to warn each other of predators, and pretty soon the stupider predators are gone. Some creatures escape the big predators in the trees. Their ability to calculate the complex geometry required to swing through trees increases quickly, because the ones that don't have the ability tend to die before reproducing. What they have to learn to survive is too much for a creature to be born with -- it must be learned from a parent. This means that child-rearing is a complex process and involves an entire tribal social structure. Are we at sentience, yet? I don't know. The communications just to establish social position without causing severe injury becomes more complex, with vocalizations that are more significant than just a growl or a whine. Creatures have different identities in different roles -- family, tribe, etc. They are aware of the dominance of bigger gorillas and they wish they could take over and be the one to mate with all the females. (Not all of them, of course. Some don't care. Their genes don't make it into the next generation.) This awareness of position includes an awareness of self. A self-evaluation is necessary to decide when to be submissive and when it might be time to challenge the silverback for leadership. Is this sentience, yet? I think so.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:14 am    Post subject: 531 One group evolves a tail of sorts to propel themselves through the water, and another simultaneously evolves a way to wriggle its way through the water? And they aren't necessarily in direct competition with one another? And how does a proto-arthropod feed if no other similar thing has evolved? If these things don't progress close enough together in time (much less in space), how does a certain entity survive long enough to have its evolution continue for generations? How long is each stage of this process thought to have taken? Was man the last evolutionary leap? If these things happen quasi-independently (within the different species), why have we not seen more evolutions taking place among the different categories...or have we? And again, are there certain mutations we can say will never occur because there's no need for it in an evolutionary sense, despite mutations being mostly random? (By the way, I expected you would be the one to answer all these questions, Zag, and I'm thankful. For some reason I trust your judgment/knowledge to pass on good information.)_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Thok
Oh, foe, the cursed teeth!

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:19 am    Post subject: 532

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: One group evolves a tail of sorts to propel themselves through the water, and another simultaneously evolves a way to wriggle its way through the water? And they aren't necessarily in direct competition with one another?

There are lots of creatures. While both things are in competition with each other, all that is needed is for both to be able survive.

 Quote: How long is each stage of this process thought to have taken? Was man the last evolutionary leap? If these things happen quasi-independently (within the different species), why have we not seen more evolutions taking place among the different categories...or have we?

Each stage of evolution takes a variable length, probably depending on the complexity of the original species, and the environmental stresses on that species.

The idea of a last evolutionary leap is silly. There probably has been some selection changes on humans in recent years (more benefit to those able to write computer programs, for example).

That said, things like the flu evolve every single year, which is why you need to get a different flu vaccine every single year. In addition to the influenza virus (which you might not like since viruses aren't really alive), various bacteria evolve every single year as we try to fight them with antibiotics.
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:37 am    Post subject: 533 It doesn't matter that they are in competition. It's a big world. The huge leap was chlorophyll, which allowed the plants to live away from the nutrient-rich heat vents in the ocean. Once that happened, the bacteria which could consume the algae also could move away. Over the whole world, there is plenty of room for the billions of tiny mutations to form, die out, or live on. Any improvement in any of dozens of avenues spreads quickly, changing the environment for everything else. It isn't a tiny system where one superior model wipes out the inferior models, and it is too simplistic to think just in concepts of inferior/superior, anyway. Mice are inferior to most other mammals in most ways, but they've specialized in one thing: They can out-breed all of them. So it doesn't matter that tons of predators make a living eating mice. The tiny rodents, with their copious reproduction, can stay ahead. So how does a proto-arthropod feed? Well, the first exoskeletons might have been an improvement in keeping from being fed upon, or in locomotion, or something else, and it didn't really change what it fed upon -- I don't really know. Changes are really much smaller, not squid to lobster, but some tiny thing that provided a small advantage. Sometimes they are changes that simply didn't provide a disadvantage, so they hung around, but then another change combined with them and together it was a huge advantage. A shell over the tubules made them break off less, so they could grow longer. But this limited the creatures ability to reproduce, so it was a plus and a minus. Multiple types existed for a long time, perhaps interbreeding, perhaps eating each other. We can only speculate, but it's not to hard to spin up a story to explain any one concept. Humans certainly weren't the last mutation. There are new species every day. It's been observed that the different facial mites that live on each large mammal (like you and me, for instance) are probably different species -- technically -- from each other. There was recently a successful experiment in evolution which showed how some evolutionary leaps that really need two changes in concert can be made. I learned about it here on GL, so it's probably in this thread. It's something like 3 years ago, but I'll summarize it later today if I can find the time.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:47 am    Post subject: 534

 Zag wrote: It's been observed that the different facial mites that live on each large mammal (like you and me, for instance) are probably different species -- technically -- from each other.

I should mentioned that I'm not allowed to pick the animal in the Animal Game anymore.

Also, thanks for the kind words. I should point out that most of the tale I've told has been speculation on my part. However, the specifics are probably accurate, somewhere, sometime.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: 535 Yes, small things like bacteria and viruses evolve every year in response to the medicines we use, but it doesn't seem like any of them are becoming something new. Shouldn't all things be advancing to a next evolutionary stage? I don't want to talk about humans being the pinnacle of evolution (we suck in a lot of areas), but we're obviously more adaptable and able to manipulate our environment. Isn't this something more animals should be evolving toward or are they already and we just have to wait a billion years to see it?_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Thok
Oh, foe, the cursed teeth!

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:19 pm    Post subject: 536

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: Isn't this something more animals should be evolving toward or are they already and we just have to wait a billion years to see it?

Evolution isn't specifically directed to anything.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:43 pm    Post subject: 537 I get that, but are mice going to stop with their extreme breeding ability? Is there not going to be another evolutionary leap making them better? Or that's the point: they are experiencing lots of evolutionary traits which aren't taking hold because they aren't furthering the species or it's some latent ability which will only surface when combined with something else later._________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Zag
Tired of his old title

novice
No harm. Pun intended!

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject: 539

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: I get that, but are mice going to stop with their extreme breeding ability? Is there not going to be another evolutionary leap making them better? Or that's the point: they are experiencing lots of evolutionary traits which aren't taking hold because they aren't furthering the species or it's some latent ability which will only surface when combined with something else later.

Evolution will tend to bring the ecosystem to an equilibrum where there doesn't need to be much visible evolution going on. But when the environment changes somehow, (changes in weather, climate, what other species are present, geography, etc.), there will be a rapid evolution where all living things adapt (or die out) and the ecosystem reaches a new equilibrium. (But you also have arms races overlaying this trend, or one species' evolution feeding back into the adaptation of another species, if you will.)

There was a fascinating experiment done in some South American riverbeds, where a species of fish with predominantly white backs lived. For every generation some mutants would tend to get darker backs, but they would fare poorly since they would stand out to predators against the white river bed.

Researchers went in and colored/replaced the stones in the riverbed to become black. I think only a few years passed before all the fish had predominantly black backs.

They then recolored the riverbed to white, and the population reverted to predominantly white equally fast.

A lot of evolutionary potential is latent in our gene base but is waiting for favourable conditions to become unleashed.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: 540 Does it only take one example of the mutation to pass it on? So, some part of a group evolves an anomaly. If the anomaly aids in survival, it's more likely to stick around (the flying squirrel), but if it simply doesn't hamper the creature, the anomaly might pass on or simply die out? In the meantime, the other squirrels who have trouble getting away might evolve to be better runners through the treetops, so both survive? That makes some sense. Part of what I'm grasping toward is why don't we see species making the leap from flying squirrel to bat today or why don't we see the in-between stage? If we do, what is the example? It seems to me this happened a lot in history based on what you are telling me, but this type of evolution doesn't seem so prevalent any more. ---------------------------------- Slightly unrelated, I'm just going to throw out something. Looking simply at humanity, what has been the evolution over time? I imagine you would say we learned better techniques regarding tools and their uses for hunting and agriculture, we became progressively less hairy, and our aesthetic sensibilities developed. Probably you would say there was a change in our brains, either in their capacity or in the development of certain sections. Going back maybe 5,000 years, we see societies really developing, and we can see early thinkers emerging. Would you call it evolution getting from Pythagoras to Mandelbrot? It seems not so much that one was necessarily more capable of thought than the other, but that the latter had a greater body of information on which to stand. Similarly, our more advanced technology and our ability to produce it doesn't seem related to the evolution in our thinking but to building on the ideas of those who came before. Is that correct?_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:46 pm    Post subject: 541 Thanks, novice. That simulpost is illuminating. There are thousands of animals on the endangered species list. Are these animals exhibiting evolutionary traits to help them survive, or is human interaction which attempts to save them with outside help hampering their "need to evolve"? If we had a nuclear holocaust/apocalypse, we would likely see significant evolutionary changes?_________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
itisally
Master of Disguise

 Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject: 542 In regards to humans. We have over time gotten larger. And not just because of the rise in obesity. The average height has increased significantly over the last 200 years and continues to do so. Here is an artical about it. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-are-we-getting-taller An interesting related fact is that birth weights and head circumferences have also increased. This has not been met with an increase in the pelvic cavity of women and some speculate that this has influenced the need of medical interventions like C-sections in child birth. In this case our mental ability to solve the challenge overcomes what would happen in other species. That being, if a mothers hips were too narrow, both she and child would die in child birth and those genes (large head, narrow birth canal) would not be passed on. Only those families with larger birth canals or smaller heads would survive._________________I could agree with you, but then we would both be wrong.
novice
No harm. Pun intended!

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:28 am    Post subject: 543

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: Does it only take one example of the mutation to pass it on?

I'm no expert on this but when you observe sexually reproducing species today, you will always find natural variations from individual to individual. Genes interact in complex ways to create variations, and a lot of our DNA has alternative sequences that normally function equally well or lead to differences that are irrelevant to our survival rate in our current environment. This means that when the environment does change, the necessary variation in the population is already there, and the selection pressure will start favouring those individuals that best fit the new conditions.

So for example, the taller giraffes of each generation will survive, and giraffes will very quickly evolve to have long necks, just by shifting the emphasis of the species' gene pool. Evolving a taller neck might not need a big mutation as such, but maybe it requires putting together individuals who have e.g. the largest production of growth hormones coupled with individuals who have torso growth inhibitors. Subtle changes in the DNA can affect the biochemistry to produce very noticeable effects in the full-grown individual.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:18 pm    Post subject: 544 Considering the discussion..._________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:59 pm    Post subject: 545

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: Does it only take one example of the mutation to pass it on? So, some part of a group evolves an anomaly. If the anomaly aids in survival, it's more likely to stick around (the flying squirrel), but if it simply doesn't hamper the creature, the anomaly might pass on or simply die out? In the meantime, the other squirrels who have trouble getting away might evolve to be better runners through the treetops, so both survive? That makes some sense. Part of what I'm grasping toward is why don't we see species making the leap from flying squirrel to bat today or why don't we see the in-between stage? If we do, what is the example? It seems to me this happened a lot in history based on what you are telling me, but this type of evolution doesn't seem so prevalent any more.

It's much like nostalgia effect in music: history is a long time, and we are cherry-picking the significant events when we look back. If you were to jump back in time a million years, you wouldn't be able to see any one of those happening then, either. A significant large-species mutation happens in some isolated area, where conditions are just right for the new version to flourish, or where the older version struggles for whatever reason. As it moves out of its specialized area, it probably isn't that much better, and its change might even represent a handicap in some ways, so the spread of the new trait is slow.

Consider sickle-cell anemia, which is prevalent in humans of African descent. This is a mutation which actually improves your ability to resist malaria, if you have only one copy of the gene, but if you have the gene from both parents, you have sickle-cell anemia. (It is also modified by other genes, so it isn't as cut-and-dried as all that). But taken as a whole, having the gene in the gene pool is beneficial for those in areas where malaria is prevalent, even though some members are killed by it. (However, in many cases, not until after they've reproduced.) This mutation is now spreading through the human race in the same way that a predisposition to have extra skin once spread through the squirrels. Many picked it up and it was primarily harmless, but it became concentrated only in a few. In some of those, it became so much stronger that an entirely new ability turned up, and they became a new species. Conceivably, someone with sickle-cell anemia will be born who also has some other mutation that makes it an asset rather than a problem. Maybe he'll have slightly different blood chemistry that enables his feeble red blood cells to carry oxygen as well or better than someone with normal red blood cells (overcoming its primary drawback) and it has somehow affected white blood cells to have vastly better disease-fighting powers. Or he has super-strength. Or laser-beam eyes. (But I really doubt that last one.)

There certainly are new large species evolving to meet changing conditions in, say, the rainforests of South America, where conditions are changing steadily, putting evolutionary pressure on the existing species. If you were to study what lives there, you might find them, or the in-between ones that aren't as well adapted as a future version will be.

Among tiny creatures (bacteria) we see lots of cases of evolution: Penicillin-resistant strains of STD's were unheard of 50 years ago, but now they are commonplace. We see this happen in front of our eyes (so to speak) only because they reproduce so fast and we've put them under such survival pressure. You could go back 30 years and see the "in-between" versions. Or you could look at the ones today and realize that they are the in-between versions of the completely-immune-to-most-anti-bacterials versions of next century.
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:21 am    Post subject: 546 SciShow is terrific, and this is one of their better ones, dealing with human evolution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROwKq3kxPEA
Chuck
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:49 pm    Post subject: 547
Zag
Tired of his old title

 Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: 548 Pat Robertson speaks out AGAINST creationism! Finally, a high-profile Christian leader with an actual brain in his head. Of course, his reasoning is that he'll lose the young people (and, no doubt, all their donations) if the church doesn't embrace science, though that might only be my cynicism talking. What I looked for and couldn't find, but I'd really like SOME Christian leader to say is something along these lines: "Of course the Bible is the true word of God, but God often speaks to us in metaphors. This is one case. God gave us eyes to see and a brain to think, and it is wrong of us not to use them."
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:17 pm    Post subject: 549

 Zag wrote: What I looked for and couldn't find, but I'd really like SOME Christian leader to say is something along these lines: "Of course the Bible is the true word of God, but God often speaks to us in metaphors. This is one case. God gave us eyes to see and a brain to think, and it is wrong of us not to use them."

And if they said that, I would think that person was a moron. Genesis wasn't written to explain anything about the Creation of the world. The ancient person(s) who wrote those conflicting (hello!) accounts wasn't concerned with scientific matters. They were writing to say something about God, so it should be used neither as support nor as rejection of Creation, Evolution, Spontaneous Generation or whatever, metaphorically or otherwise.
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Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:35 pm    Post subject: 550

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: Genesis wasn't written to explain anything about the Creation of the world.

Wait. What? Then what's with the whole story of the seven days (which, you'll recall, is why you celebrate a Sabbath day)?

Of course, I think it's all a bunch of hooey, right up there with the Kronos creation myth, the Navajo creation myth, etc. But there are certainly a scary number of people who believe it as literal truth, and their reasoning is that all of the Bible is literally the word of God and therefore to be taken exactly. Hell, in the 1500's, lots of people were burned alive for claiming that the Bible, including Genesis, was not the literal truth.

My whole point is that someone with credibility in the Christian world should come out and say that God is certainly clever enough to speak in metaphor, and that a metaphorical interpretation of Genesis is remarkably accurate with current scientific thinking. Pat Robertson almost does, in saying that we should embrace science. He's just missing the connect-the-dots step of saying that he isn't discarding Genesis, just interpreting it differently.

From my point of view, it is my compromise to the literalists, hoping to convert some of them to a policy of using their brains, and allowing them to do so without losing face nor giving up their faith.

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: And if they said that, I would think that person was a moron.

So what is your opinion of the 40+% of Americans who not only think that Genesis includes the story of the creation of the world, but that they do believe it literally. I mean, sure, I think that they are all morons. But I thought you'd be more generous.

I guess I'm asking what aspect of saying that would make someone out to be a moron: that they think Genesis is a creation story, or that they think it is a metaphorical one?
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:19 pm    Post subject: 551

 Zag wrote: Wait. What? Then what's with the whole story of the seven days (which, you'll recall, is why you celebrate a Sabbath day)?

Well, now we're conflating things. Christians don't celebrate Sabbath, at least not to the extent and reverence of the Jews. We're much more New Age than that. We believe the story of Genesis does encourage a cycle of work and rest, but I don't think most Christians celebrate Sabbath. Beyond that, most of the first Creation account is a re-appropriation of other Near Eastern creation myths to say something about the God of the Hebrews and how she is different than the other gods. Some of these include that the world was made in an orderly fashion as opposed to chaos, that the world is good made by a good God, that God fashioned the world intentionally, that there is a cycle of work and rest, that this God or is more powerful than the other gods, etc. There's a whole thing about that first account being a polemic against the gods of the Israelite captors.

 Quote: My whole point is that someone with credibility in the Christian world should come out and say that God is certainly clever enough to speak in metaphor...

I can affirm this. I would say though that how God speaks to people is rarely about his ability and more about the ability of the people to whom he is speaking to understand. Anyway, I can get behind the force of what you're saying, that science and religion are not necessarily incompatible, and God gave people brains which he would want them to use.

 Quote: So what is your opinion of the 40+% of Americans who not only think that Genesis includes the story of the creation of the world, but that they do believe it literally. I mean, sure, I think that they are all morons. But I thought you'd be more generous.

You misunderstand. You said you wanted a Christian leader to say that, and I would think a leader who said that is a moron. I think a leader should be more learned than their followers, and therefore should know the Genesis account isn't literal, much less presenting a scientific assessment of how things got here. I know plenty of lay people have wonky views of the Creation story, and that's okay for them. What is not okay about it is that they haven't had some learned person debunk it for them by now. I know all the churches I have been at have addressed some of the out-dated notions of biblical interpretation, specifically this one, but they are also the ones populated by seminarians or seminary professors. I guess not every Christian can be so lucky. Hopefully my seminary classmates will go forth and help further debunk these wrong notions.

To your final question, they would be a moron for either I would guess. Again, the focus isn't really on how the world was made any more than other ancient creation myths are (at least as far as I understand them). Generally, those myths are about who we as a people are and where we came from. If that's the focus, it also can't very well be a metaphor for another form of creation (evolution, for example) because the story is not about how the world was made.
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Zag
Tired of his old title

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:19 am    Post subject: 552

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: I think a leader should be more learned than their followers, and therefore should know the Genesis account isn't literal, much less presenting a scientific assessment of how things got here.

Have you never met any Southern Baptists? That is EXACTLY what they preach. In the United States, there is a huge movement to get "Creationism" taught in public schools as a reasonable, scientific alternative. This movement is not led by confused laypeople, but by the clergy themselves. http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=5841 http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/07/21/7135995-creationism-controversy-again-slips-into-texas-textbook-debate?lite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education_in_the_United_States

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: Hopefully my seminary classmates will go forth and help further debunk these wrong notions.

What I'm hoping for, as well.

 Jedo the Jedi wrote: the story is not about how the world was made.

I guess a lot of people were confused by the fact that the first part of Genesis is a story is about how the world was made. ... and also by all the preachers who say that it's a story of how the world was made.

Why do you think that it was news that Pat Robertson, a Christian leader, came out against Creationism. If it were only laypeople pushing it, then it wouldn't be news.
Jedo the Jedi
Paragon in Training

 Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:47 am    Post subject: 553 I live in the South, and my tradition is closely related to Southern Baptists. Believe me, I'm familiar. They are some of the ones with whom I take issue. The problem there is they have their own, inbred schools which just create a cycle, so I'm not sure there is much hope there. I mean, there are plenty who branch out and come back and cause change, but they are still a minority. So I'm aware that there are a lot of moronic church leaders out there. The Genesis story is about how the world was made, technically, but my point is it isn't some sort of scientific focus or proposal of doctrine for the creation of the world. Genesis was probably written no earlier than 8th Century B.C.E., so how much weight of accuracy (even for ancient standards) can it have? Besides that, Biblical authors were writing for different reasons than our modern notions of "historical accuracy." In the end, it definitely is news precisely because not many Christian leaders support the view of Robertson. Maybe he will be the first of many._________________Paragon Tally: 18 mafia, 3 SKs (1 twice), 1 cultist, numerous chat scum...and counting.
Chuck
Daedalian Member

 Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:45 pm    Post subject: 554
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