From Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more: Richard Dawkins: For over a century, Darwinism was the “must be” explanation, the only “scientific one.” As Dawkins put it (p. 287, Blind Watchmaker, 1986): My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories. But Darwinism is not “the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life.” Claims that were formerly merely Read More ›
O’Leary for News’s new series here at Evolution News & Views: A while back, I started a series here called “Science Fictions” that I began by asking a simple question: Why is the space alien understood as science but Bigfoot as mythology? The reason I asked is that, still lacking specimens of either entity, decade after decade, answers are likely to be revealing. Those answers help us see how “science” is understood, allowing us to interpret claims about the origin of the universe, life, human life, and the human mind. In general, naturalism (the idea that inanimate nature somehow created minds) seems to be the guiding principle of enterprises classed as science today, even though the evidence actually goes in Read More ›
So The Scientist wonders: “It’s always difficult to claim absolutely a new lineage until you’ve done some biochemical tests,” said microbial ecologist Jack Gilbert of Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, who was not involved with the study, “but, genomics-wise, this thing appears to fit outside of our current understanding.” Genomic analyses place Kryptonia in the Bacteroidetes superphylum, whose members thrive in the gut and in marine environments. If confirmed, Kryptonia would be the first extreme thermophile found in this group. Kryptonia appears to have acquired this characteristic through horizontal gene transfer from Archaea.
From the Economist: Alastair Crisp and Chiara Boschetti of Cambridge University, and their colleagues, have been investigating the matter. Their results, just published in Genome Biology, suggest human beings have at least 145 genes picked up from other species by their forebears. Admittedly, that is less than 1% of the 20,000 or so humans have in total. But it might surprise many people that they are even to a small degree part bacterium, part fungus and part alga. Dr Crisp and Dr Boschetti came to this conclusion by looking at the ever-growing public databases of genetic information now available. They did not study humans alone. They looked at nine other primate species, and also 12 types of fruit fly and Read More ›
We are still assessing the significance of the fact that hardly anyone takes TV seriously any more (which is what we were trying to say in “Time Magazine quizzes Scott Walker’s high school science teacher on his evolution views). Unfortunately, seniors, the people who do still take TV seriously are the group most likely to vote, and least likely to understand the new media issues. That said, it is encouraging to hear from another dying medium that Americans are moving faster than ever away from traditional TV Adults watched an average of four hours and 51 minutes of live TV each day in the fourth quarter of 2014, down 13 minutes from the same quarter of 2013, according to Nielsen’s Read More ›
From Phys.org: Many animals, including humans, acquired essential ‘foreign’ genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study challenges conventional views that animal evolution relies solely on genes passed down through ancestral lines, suggesting that, at least in some lineages, the process is still ongoing. The transfer of genes between organisms living in the same environment is known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). It is well known in single-celled organisms and thought to be an important process that explains how quickly bacteria evolve, for example, resistance to antibiotics. Lead author Alastair Crisp from the University of Cambridge, UK, said: “This is the first study to show how Read More ›