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 Can evolution make things less complicated?
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pleco
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USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 05/18/2006 :  14:54:03  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/ID/12853798

quote:
These types of cells are called eukaryotes, and they're found in organisms from fungi to humans. They look like the souped-up versions of simpler cells such as bacteria and their distant cousins called archaea. Many researchers think eukaryotes are the descendants of either bacteria or archaea, or some combination of the two. But genetic and protein evidence do not support this view, researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Instead, the data suggest that eukaryote cells with all their bells and whistles are probably as ancient as bacteria and archaea, and may have even appeared first, with bacteria and archaea appearing later as stripped-down versions of eukaryotes, according to David Penny, a molecular biologist at Massey University in New Zealand.

Penny, who worked on the research with Chuck Kurland of Sweden's Lund University and Massey University's L.J. Collins, acknowledged that the results might come as a surprise.

“We do think there is a tendency to look at evolution as progressive,” he said. “We prefer to think of evolution as backwards, sideways, and occasionally forward.”


Interesting. We all know that evolution does not have a particular "goal" in mind beyond survival, but we do tend to see it as going from simple to complex, even though we know better.

by Filthy
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Dave W.
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Posted - 05/18/2006 :  18:31:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
I just happened to read a post elsewhere which pointed me towards the vastly interesting Animal Genome Size Database, which shows that as far as the number of DNA base-pairs goes, evolution has done everything but make a bee-line between "simple" and "complex."

If you look at the Entire Database Statistics page, for example, you'll find that by a very conservative measure, the largest genome is some 40,000 times larger than the smallest (the least-conservative estimate is a 600,000-fold difference). Looking at just mammals, we find a nearly 5-fold difference. Just among primates (bottom of this page and top of this page), we find the tarsier has a genome just over 50% larger than that of Humans, while the titi monkey has only about 65% of the genetic material we do. Tarsiers don't strike me as more complex than us. And, of course, Titis don't seem to be particularly simple compared to us, either.

(Coincidentally, "titi" - as in the monkey - was an answer in a crossword puzzle I did last week. I'd never heard the name before then, and now I can't seem to get away from it.)

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2006 :  16:45:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Dave's right Pleco. We define complex as more and more intelligent, but that isn't necessarily more genetically complex. In addition, some of the most primitive organisms are still around.

There have been mass extinctions so it looks like some sort of road to have gotten from the first organisms to the last but that is distorted perception.

What does happen is more and more variety of organisms. When a new species evolves, take cats for example. One kind of cat becomes 2 kinds. Those two may become 4 kinds and so on. So if you define complexity as numbers of different lifeforms, evolution might have direction in that respect.

The other factor at work here is intelligence seems to offer the supreme advantage, after the exception of rapid reproduction anyway. So it makes sense that evolution would result in organisms that were more and more intelligent. Of course, after we trash the environment, we'll see if intelligence can match rapid reproduction for survivability. If we divert an asteroid from striking the planet, intelligence wins. If all out nuclear war wipes out most life on the planet, the rapidly reproducing cockroaches will likely still be around.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 05/20/2006 16:46:37
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pleco
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USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 05/20/2006 :  17:00:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Oh, I know Dave's right....I wasn't arguing anything other than that most people "perceive" evolution as going from simple to complex

When items come to light that go against this, people (who aren't actively involved in keeping up with evolution/science) will think that evolution is wrong, and/or the whores of mis-information will twist it to their own sinister goals.

by Filthy
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Dave W.
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USA
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Posted - 05/20/2006 :  20:31:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Oh, I know Dave's right...
And just for the record, I certainly wasn't trying to argue with you, pleco. You just gave me the opportunity to link to the vastly fascinating Animal Genome Size Database, the same day I was introduced to it.

By the way, I think tarsiers are my new "favorite animal." I may have to write something up on the little critter to revive this old thread. 'Cause I'm definitely not doing titi monkeys.

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 05/22/2006 :  01:05:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Those are cute. I thought they had a different name, or is there something that looks similar? The name is on the tip of my thought processes but I can't quite retrieve it. Something cutsie like a booboo.....but not booboo.

Found it: Ayeaye.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 05/22/2006 01:06:40
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 05/22/2006 :  01:45:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

Those are cute. I thought they had a different name, or is there something that looks similar? The name is on the tip of my thought processes but I can't quite retrieve it. Something cutsie like a booboo.....but not booboo.

Found it: Ayeaye.

Not the same animal, but aye-ayes are are fascinating anyway.



Note the elongated fingers. These are used as a sort of a grub & bug crowbar. They also eat a lot of fruit.

Here's a tarsier:



These guys all but have a monopoly on "cute."

Evolution can certainly make an organism less complex. I refer us again to our old friends, the blind cave fishes.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 05/22/2006 01:49:35
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pleco
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USA
2998 Posts

Posted - 05/22/2006 :  05:09:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
Ah, so the rule may be that evolution causes organism to go from less cute to more cute. There are exceptions, of course, like Jerry Falwell.

by Filthy
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 05/22/2006 :  06:42:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Ah, so the rule may be that evolution causes organism to go from less cute to more cute. There are exceptions, of course, like Jerry Falwell.

Indeed, but Jerry Falwell has been captured and found to be cute only to the blind.

700 pound hammerhead -- *snork*.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 05/23/2006 :  00:20:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
From The loom : "Speciation in reverse."

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dave W.
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USA
26015 Posts

Posted - 05/26/2006 :  21:57:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Ah, so the rule may be that evolution causes organism to go from less cute to more cute.
A while back (probably more than two years ago), Scientific American ran an article on the "evolution" of cartoon characters, demonstrating that the "good guys" became more and more child-like over time (especially Mickey Mouse), because child-like equals cute which equals pleasant. Seems that we humans are predisposed to act in a certain way towards certain types of facial features, probably because it helps us avoid killing our children, no matter how many times they flush our car keys down the toilet.

So, given the amount of power we humans have over whether a particular species of macroscopic animal lives on or goes extinct, it really would make sense for animals - even wild animals - to evolve towards "cuteness" to our eyes. For an obvious counterexample, sharks ain't cute, and it's taken a long time for shark conservation to really get going (compared to other conservation efforts).

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 05/27/2006 :  03:02:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

quote:
Originally posted by pleco

Ah, so the rule may be that evolution causes organism to go from less cute to more cute.
A while back (probably more than two years ago), Scientific American ran an article on the "evolution" of cartoon characters, demonstrating that the "good guys" became more and more child-like over time (especially Mickey Mouse), because child-like equals cute which equals pleasant. Seems that we humans are predisposed to act in a certain way towards certain types of facial features, probably because it helps us avoid killing our children, no matter how many times they flush our car keys down the toilet.

So, given the amount of power we humans have over whether a particular species of macroscopic animal lives on or goes extinct, it really would make sense for animals - even wild animals - to evolve towards "cuteness" to our eyes. For an obvious counterexample, sharks ain't cute, and it's taken a long time for shark conservation to really get going (compared to other conservation efforts).

This is entirely correct. A prime example can be found in domestic 'pet' breeds, especially the so-called 'toys.' These are bred to be small with large, often pushed-in faces, enhancing their eyes. In some breeds, the animal is so small and with such a large head, that it's offspring must be delivered by Cesarean section. I think they look like hell myself, but they are very popular.

'Cute' will ever rule; the only problem is the definition. To some of us, few critters are more appealing than an neonate crocodile.



I think it's those fantastic eyes that captivate us so.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26015 Posts

Posted - 05/27/2006 :  19:41:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

'Cute' will ever rule; the only problem is the definition.
Nope, that's all taken care of. The measure of the cuteness of any person, place or thing is called the "Awwwwwwww Factor" (AF). How often someone goes "Awwwww" at the subject, multiplied by the average duration of the individual "Awwwwwws" gives us AF. Note that the AF does not correlate well with the "Humuna-humuna, A-roooooo, Woof-woof Factor." You see, despite the ages-old saying, there really is an accounting for taste, and...
quote:
To some of us, few critters are more appealing than an neonate crocodile.
...I see you're in the red.


- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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