Archive for Evolution

A Frog’s Evolutionary Tale

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2010 by neandergal

Geologists are able to tell the timeline and sequence of tectonic plate movement by studying the genetics of a variety of 24 species of the Paini frog in Asia. Genetic analyses of the frogs allow scientists to determine their evolutionary trail along the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

Formation of mountain ranges caused by movement of the Indian tectonic plate and climate change isolated populations of frogs. The different environments caused by geological changes led to different evolutionary changes in the frogs. From the genetic studies of the different frogs, it appears that the beginning of the mountain ranges of the Himalayas started in the Oligocene period some 34-23m years ago. Species divergences occurred in the Miocene period 5-23m years ago.

Scientists at University California Berkeley and Kunming in China analyzed the species of spiny frog that evolved muscular limbs to hold on tight to their mates in an amphibian grip known as the “Amplexus” (Latin for embrace) and rocks in the fast flowing rivers of their high altitude environment.

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A Lousy Sense of Smell

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by neandergal

Scientists have mapped the genome of the body louse (Pediculus humanus humanus) and found that it has a lousy sense of smell.

The louse contains 108 million DNA base pairs (bp) whereas their human host genome has three billion bp.The blood of their human host is the exclusive diet of the louse so they did not evolve to have a sense of smell. The louse is responsible for the spread of diseases like typhus and trench fever.

Scientists are itching to learn more about the genome of the louse as it may help to prevent epidemic outbreaks of these diseases among people who live in insanitary conditions.Analysis of DNA reveals that the body louse evolved from head lice when humans started wearing clothes some 190.000 years ago.The evolutionary process of louse will undoubtedly have entomologists scratching their heads for quite some time.

Source: Scientific American: Full genome sequence shows body lice have lousy sense of smell

Singing for Sex

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by neandergal

Gentlemen, if you sing a song, you may get some depending on whether or not she likes your voice. However, be prepared to sing for at least fifteen minutes because this is how long it takes her to decide on whether or not you are the one for her. If she really likes your voice, she will expose her genitals and allow you to have your wicked way. A little tap dancing goes a long way too and she definitely likes it from behind. This lady will finally allow you to have your way when you tap out a “mounting” song that she approves of. Even after you have had your way, she can still reject or accept your sperm…

According to a report in New Scientist, this only applies if you are a pond skater belonging to the species, Gerris gracilicornis. The females have apparently evolved a protective shield that covers their genitalia. When the males are able to woo and sing a happy enough tune for her, she will lift the shield and allow mating to occur.

Since you are not a red-backed water strider in a stationary pool in a mountain stream in Japan or Korea, then your potential female mate will respond very well to fine wine and dinning which is probably the Gerris gracilicornis equivalent of a song and tap dance.

“Ida” Hype

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2009 by neandergal

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It is unfortunate to have such a magnificent discovery like the 47 million year old fossil “Ida” or Darwinius masillae marred by the mass media that interject misleading statements such as the “missing link” and “how it will change everything” in regard to human evolution.

New Scientist explains that the discussion is on where Ida split off in the evolutionary tree and not whether she is the “missing link”.

New Scientist interviews the palaeontologist, Jørn Hurum at the University of Oslo in Norway who sets the fossil record straight in regard to recent hype.

On the one hand he applauds that the media coverage encourages public discussion on primate evolution, but on the other hand negates this progress because creationists use the misinformation by the media against evolutionary biologists.

Inaccurate and hasty reporting inadvertently discredits science. Creationists like Creation Ministries International hijack the hype of Ida and use it to further discredit science in the eyes of the public.

A Most Bizarre Sex Act

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2009 by neandergal

Spiders weave a tangled sexual web that leads to stiffer competition for passing on their genes. Scientific American reports on a recent study published in the May 2009 issue Evolution that shows how the genitalia of Nephilid and Golden Orb Weaver spiders evolved from simpler to more complex structures.

Male spiders that had more hooks, ridges and twists on their palps stood a greater chance of passing on their genes then their less complex competitors. When the male copulates with the female, the palp breaks off inside the female so there is a greater chance of his sperm fertilizing the female’s eggs. He is not only content from giving her his all, but will stick around her web and chase off any competitors. Female ducts evolved from those that gave straight easy access to more convoluted ducts with twists and turns making it harder for penetration by males lacking the right equipment.

The Longest Penis in the Animal Kingdom!

Posted in Science with tags , , , , , on May 22, 2009 by neandergal

According to a report in New Scientist, hermaphroditic filter-feeders have the longest penises in proportion to their body size in the animal kingdom. Their penis can reach up to eight times their body length. And what’s more length isn’t everything. It appears that stoutness is more beneficial for mating. A stouter more muscular penis is better than a long flexible one…

Dinosaurs, Camels and Bears, Oh My!

Posted in Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by neandergal

The animals went in two by two… A model of Noah’s Ark on display at a UK zoo has dinosaurs happily boarding the ark between the polar bears and camels. Noah dolls and other biblical tat are for sale in its gift shop. Sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch, doesn’t it? Alas, it is not.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol in the UK, has a distinctly Christian theme and openly discredits science in favor of creationism on its page, Evolution: A Theory Under Pressure.

The Facebook group Sink the Ark protests the zoo on the grounds that it markets religion to children and schools. The group page includes a collection of photographs. Among the pictures is a photo of a happy looking Noah for sale in the gift shop. Unfortunately, some of the pictures (including the one of the Noah’s Ark model) are no longer available due to a Facebook account closure. This blog will post a link to them when they reappear which they undoubtedly will at some point..

One can only imagine the look on Noah’s face if he saw two Stegosauruses walking up the plank especially alongside the camels and polar bears.