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Old 12-17-2006, 10:36 AM   #1
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Natural Selection and Human Beings

I know many do not believe in the thought process behind evolution and natural selection.....and I do not want to debate it in this thread.

Currently I am taking a science course and the last few parts have been about genetics, natural selection, and evolution.

My thinking is this....

Have human beings for the most part, defeated natural selection?

If we have defeated it, have we in essence caused parts of our genetic code to be rendered useless? Defunct....but not elimiated it?

Does the elimination of Natural Selection have significant repercussions on the health of the human race?

Am I way out there this morning making no intelligent thoughts? A little knowledge is dangerous.
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:38 AM   #2
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Hypothesis:

At the moment any species stops evolving in response to challenges and threats, it risks extinction.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/survival/clock/
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:45 AM   #3
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Actually I saw an article recently about proof that humans are still evolving. Proof is hard to come by on big things, because it takes such a grand timeline to see things. But they found that a gene for lactose tolerance had independently evolved in several African communities, with the same function but different genetic location/makeup than the lactose tolerant gene for Europeans and their decendants. This was also cool because it was cited as an instance of evolution for social and not environmental reasons (cow milk being added to diets by human design, not natuaral design).

As for species ceasing to evolve, well, in addition to the fact that you can't know we have, I think there are ways around extinctions. Maybe humans have conquered the these challenges and threats in other ways, such as by the evolution of technology, medicine, etc. We have vaccinations to defeat diseases instead of part of the species dying off.
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:56 AM   #4
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Originally posted by Varitek
We have vaccinations to defeat diseases instead of part of the species dying off.
Which my theory is causes us to have further problems down the road. We are artificially allowing DNA that would have been eliminated to continue to be spread.

The other thing I was thinking is you cannot stop evolution, but what will the effects be of say VIDEO games on our DNA code years from now.
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:59 AM   #5
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There are two kinds of snakes in Australia that have changed over the past seventy years in order to eat the cane frog (or however it was called, a frog species from South America brought to Australia to keep control of insects that destroy the cane sugar in Queensland).
The frog is venomous and didn't have any natural enemies when it was brought to Australia. So it became a plaque and caused a lot of damage to the nature, but didn't help to secure the sugar cane. It just didn't do its job.
The one snake changed the form of its head, so it can eat the frog without getting poisoned. The other snake now has a longer body so that the poison doesn't harm that much because it disperses over a greater body area.

I would say every species still evolves, but normally it takes hundreds to thousands of years until there is significant change.
These two snakes were really interesting for scientists because they never thought evolution could happen that fast.

Also, the reason why Europeans can drink more alcohol, and don't become addicted that fast, compared to Indians, Africans, Aborigines or Asians is very simple.

In Asia fro example people learned thousands of years ago that you can sterilise water just by cooking it.
Europeans didn't learn to sterilise water that way, so they used alcohol until the late middle ages to sterilise water.
Because Asians substituted alcohol by water, there genes responsible for removing the alcohol out of the body, regressed, while Europeans still have this gene.
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:38 PM   #6
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Re: Natural Selection and Human Beings

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
I know many do not believe in the thought process behind evolution and natural selection.....and I do not want to debate it in this thread.

Currently I am taking a science course and the last few parts have been about genetics, natural selection, and evolution.

My thinking is this....

Have human beings for the most part, defeated natural selection?

If we have defeated it, have we in essence caused parts of our genetic code to be rendered useless? Defunct....but not elimiated it?

Does the elimination of Natural Selection have significant repercussions on the health of the human race?

Am I way out there this morning making no intelligent thoughts? A little knowledge is dangerous.
Natural selection is the direct force of environmental factors upon a population. In this human beings have been masterful in buffering ourselves against the environment - our ability to manipulate our environment with higher intelligence and our morphological characteristics (for instance the opposable thumb) are the products of natural selection. Now humanity today experiences selection far more due to sexual selection, we select our mates for a number of reasons, the social controls certainly rank up there; we marry within our lot; and biological controls, those who have the genetic luck of being good looking will be positively selected for both in terms of mate choice and adventageously in life - if you look good you have a better job opportunities.

Natural selection may be removed from humans due to the homogenising effects of gene flow but sexual selection and in this new century artificial selection will be driving forces that may well accelerate our development far beyond the limits of gradual evolution.
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
I would say every species still evolves, but normally it takes hundreds to thousands of years until there is significant change.
The thing is that it doesn't, we do not see this gradual evolutionary chain in a lot of the fossil record - we do see such shifts with minor changes in some forms such as foraminifera tests in deep sea cores but for things like vertebrates we see prolonged morphological stasis (the palaeospecies stays the same) for millions of years sharply punctuated by the appearence of new species. This observation was explained by Eldredge and Gould as allopatric speciation (the fringe population seperated from the main population evolving and repopulating the area in a geological instant) being recorded as the sharp punctuations, the theory is punctuated equilibrium and the debate is quite interesting.
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
Hypothesis:

At the moment any species stops evolving in response to challenges and threats, it risks extinction.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/survival/clock/
Life at the edge of chaos, but it should also be noted that Van Valen found that the probability of a species becoming extinct remains constant for it's duration. The idea that all species must be locked in an evolutionary arms race of adaption does not match for things like relic taxa such as the coelocanth or lungfish which appeared hundreds of millions of years ago and have remained relatively unchanged because the ecological niche that they occupy (the specific environment where they outcompete competitors) hasn't seen a challenger to compete against.
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Old 12-17-2006, 12:49 PM   #9
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As for useless DNA we don't even need to go down to gene level selection so see obsolete elements - from our appendix to coxix bone - vestigial elements that lack the function they initially had and get reduced but don't dissapear.
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Old 12-17-2006, 01:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
As for useless DNA we don't even need to go down to gene level selection so see obsolete elements - from our appendix to coxix bone - vestigial elements that lack the function they initially had and get reduced but don't dissapear.
But isn't it the DNA code that produces adaptations? I wouldn't call it useless.
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:57 PM   #11
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Gosh, how interesting!
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Old 12-17-2006, 09:35 PM   #12
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Wanderer? Why is DNA useless?
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Old 12-17-2006, 09:44 PM   #13
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Humans are still evolving and will be evolving for a long time, for example e professor told me that if you look to the fingertips of our ancestors you can see how they were big when compared to our fingertips now and that´s because humans do more stuff with fingertips like typing
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Old 12-17-2006, 09:48 PM   #14
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DNA is the least useless thing in the world!!!! DNA is in everything that´s alive!!!!!! it is so important that to have a DNA is a characteristic of live forms, if it doen´s have DNA then isn´t alive (until aliens proof wrong )

and mutations in DNA is what produce evolution (you can see it with bacteria in a faster rythym) and of course the adaptation to the environment and conditions
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:12 PM   #15
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Actually, I think RNA is more important than DNA. DNA has a whole lot of useless crap that doesn't really do much tough. Once you sift through the crap of introns and you splice together some RNA and enter the wonderful world of proteins - that is where the party's at.
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