Ask me about evolution

A repository for intrinsically valuable information

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby cmsellers » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:48 am

What's wrong with having them mix together two chemicals before expelling them, Carrie?

I'm not clear why an absence of hard, crunchy bits should be an issue, aside from making them wicked easy for any passing knight to slay.
  • 2

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 7221
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: Bat out of Hell

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby skooma » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:55 am

There are new studies (Wired has an article), saying that humans are evolving 100 times faster than we used to. There doesn't seem to be a clear idea as to why, and apparently faster means we learned to digest cheese within the last few thousand years.

I'd guess we're responding to changes in the environment, while evolving; could the increasing impact on the environment (natural or otherwise) that we're having be reflecting back to shape our evolution, or are the speeds too out of sync for that?

And, well, are there ways to speed evolution?
  • 1

Skooma seems the type of person to chase me down and force me at gun point to receive their encomium with good graces. ~Jack Road

* I got caught in the crossfire of one of skooma's fucking frisbees ~Sister Morphine
User avatar
skooma
TCS Necromancer
TCS Necromancer
 
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:21 pm
Location: Stuck in your door
Show rep
Title: The Lightning

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby cmsellers » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:48 am

The traditional view* of evolution is that there are two main components: 1. random genetic mutation and 2. natural selection. Most mutations are deleterious or neutral, but some are advantageous, and those are passed on. However a mutation must be present in the population in order to be selected for.

Obviously, speeding up random genetic mutation will increase the chance of having the mutation you need, and this is the principle behind irradiating seeds in an attempt to induce mutations in artificial selection. Larger populations are also more likely to have an advantageous mutation given a constant mutation rate, and variety of things can increase the mutation rate slightly, but broadly speaking the mutation rate in nature is fairly consistent.

The rate of natural selection, however, is variable. When an organism moves into a new niche, pressures are stronger, and natural selection happens faster, a process known as adaptive radiation. This is widely accepted, though Steven Jay Gould took this further to argue that organisms spend most of their evolutionary history essentially in stasis, except for brief periods of rapid evolution when their environment changes. Most biologists reject Gould's argument; it appears that various forms of competition lead to a constant refinement of organisms, however it's most noticeable when an organism's environment changes drastically.

When it comes to humans, consider that we keep altering the physical form of our environment, the social structure of our communities, and our diet. We've essentially created a whole lot of new niches for ourselves, and the organism that created them was not necessarily the optimal organism to exploit them. So it's hardly surprising that we're evolving much more rapidly than we did even a hundred-thousand years ago, when all humans were still hunter-gatherers living in small bands eating diets consisting largely of starches (the paleo diet's absurd claims aside) supplemented by seasonal produce and meat when it was attainable.

*We are also discovering that epigenetics is important in many cases—human height is a notable example—but the research on this is new enough that there isn't a consensus on how epigenetic inheritance works.
  • 5

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 7221
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: Bat out of Hell

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby skooma » Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:26 am

So if I'm understanding adaptive radiation correctly, exactly our drastic changes to the environment could create relatively rapid evolution. It's an important point we have a hardwired tendency to miss, that social structure is part of "the environment", and may be where have the most leeway. Which is kind of wasted on us, but I like keeping the possibility of conscious and purposeful influence in focus anyway; of course that applies to the whole gamut of this question by definition, "purposeful" just starts with social environment. It also looks like "relatively rapid" could be significantly faster than "millennia" to not need lactaid.

The first things I think of as regards such new niches - which I'd guess would be fairly overlapping for most of us - is the big stuff like climate change, the extreme increase in autoimmune disease, which is (often enough to be called generally) now acknowledged as environmental, lots of poisoning the natural environment, dangerous imbalances in ecosystems, etc., not good things. Of course adaptive responses could still be wonderful things. Realizing overpopulation is an obvious factor here too, I have to wonder, with human survival being in question, even for climate change alone, if the forms new niches and adaptation take could turn out to be even faster than we're ready to imagine. I know Google promptly gave me a genetics study, which I understand well enough to get that "we don't yet exactly know", as to causes of major evolutionary leaps, but I'd guess things like famine, Plague Inc type events (especially if you win?), genocide, and the kind of age of extinction we've created now, all probably count a lot anyway. If large segments of humanity don't make it through all the damage we're doing, then it seems safe to assume those who survive would represent major changes.

Even leaving out things like smallpox and war, we've done enough to create a vast array of new niches (I'm personally never getting over what computer use may do to the contact lens industry via blepharitis). Considering this in relation to social environment would relate to the kinds of change that most amaze us subjectively (at least until we see what else happens). I have an idea that the "first world" and oceans are high on the list of where we've had the most impact, for example, and that kind of interaction with social structure could go on indefinitely.

Since we're doing this ourselves, well, I hope we can inadvertently outsmart ourselves, and maybe even wind up as the kind who do plan rationally - hey, some societies have, I always stand by the uphill argument that humanity isn't inherently as bad as we appear. Okay, I have too many questions to know where to start, hell where to start would be one of them.
  • 3

Skooma seems the type of person to chase me down and force me at gun point to receive their encomium with good graces. ~Jack Road

* I got caught in the crossfire of one of skooma's fucking frisbees ~Sister Morphine
User avatar
skooma
TCS Necromancer
TCS Necromancer
 
Posts: 669
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:21 pm
Location: Stuck in your door
Show rep
Title: The Lightning

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Grimstone » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:48 pm

How many more millennia do flying fish have to fling themselves out of the ocean before they finally get to rule the skies?

Image
  • 4

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." — Albert Camus
User avatar
Grimstone
TCS Guerilla
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:52 am
Show rep
Title: Creature of the Night

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Piter Lauchy » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Grimstone wrote:How many more millennia do flying fish have to fling themselves out of the ocean before they finally get to rule the skies?

Spoiler: show
Image

And why the hell did they evolve in the first place? Do they pluck insects out of the sky or what advantage does the gliding give them?
  • 1

The Oatmeal wrote:Live life passionately and love everyone like they are family, because Jesus is always with you. Jesus loves you seriously bigtime. He'd hug you until your eyeballs exploded out of your skull if he ever met you. He'd windsurf across oceans of dead Nazis which he personally slaughtered just to tell you that your new haircut is the bee's knees. [...]
Praise Jesus, especially when it's sunny outside because Jesus would totally be cool with you praising while you get a nice tan.
User avatar
Piter Lauchy
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1004
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:33 am
Location: Bier und Wurst
Show rep
Title: Idk, someone give me one

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby NathanLoiselle » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:49 pm

Oh No. I recognize a trap when I see one. And this is a trap. I'll say evolution is real and you'll say "but you can't hold it or smell it!" and I'll say "it's one of those things that you can't touch". Then you'll say "aha! it's like climate change but we all know that climate change was created by the Chinese and perpetuated by our lib-tard western media to fund wild Chinese experiments like solar power, thus evolution isn't real! It's fake news from Germany!" At which point I'll slap my head and say "Ai Ai Ai".
  • 3

User avatar
NathanLoiselle
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 3663
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:49 am
Location: You'll Never Know!
Show rep

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Anglerphobe » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:50 pm

I'm no ichthyologist, but I have heard that it's a method of evading marine predators which try to corner shoals of small fish against the surface to catch them. Flying (or falling with style) is a way to jump the blockade of seals or dolphins or sharks or whatever. I guess it doesn't work as well on birds, though.
  • 6

"It's not logic, it's psychology"
User avatar
Anglerphobe
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1842
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:03 pm
Location: Candy Apple Island
Show rep
Title: Ape, but not so big

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Grimstone » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:17 am

Anglerphobe wrote:I'm no ichthyologist, but I have heard that it's a method of evading marine predators which try to corner shoals of small fish against the surface to catch them. Flying (or falling with style) is a way to jump the blockade of seals or dolphins or sharks or whatever. I guess it doesn't work as well on birds, though.


Image

In their fully evolved form it's the birds that need to evade them.
  • 7

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." — Albert Camus
User avatar
Grimstone
TCS Guerilla
 
Posts: 1906
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:52 am
Show rep
Title: Creature of the Night

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby cmsellers » Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:34 am

Grimstone wrote:How many more millennia do flying fish have to fling themselves out of the ocean before they finally get to rule the skies?

Spoiler: show
Image

I realized I missed this and never answered it.

Unlike most gliding animals today, who glide with flaps of skin from their sides, flying fish glide with their limbs, which means that they could potentially evolve into flying animals. It's not inevitable, because evolution doesn't work like that, but it's possible.

They'd have to evolve the ability to breathe air and larger, stronger wings, but it's plausible that could happen, likely after a mass die-off of birds and bats. I googled around and found an example of a speculative such fish which might evolve.
  • 2

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 7221
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: Bat out of Hell

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Windy » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:06 am

why are humans the only animals without a penis bone
  • 2

User avatar
Windy
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 2872
Joined: Fri May 29, 2015 11:41 am
Show rep

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby D-LOGAN » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:44 pm

Cause we're fucking awesome!
  • 1

Not just yet, I'm still tender from before.
User avatar
D-LOGAN
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 3514
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:08 pm
Location: Éire
Show rep
Title: ALL PRAISE UNTO MIGHTY KEK!

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby DoglovingJim » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:45 pm

Windy wrote:why are humans the only animals without a penis bone

Isn't it a sign of good health to be able to have a solid erection? So not everyone can go and make babies (until some nut invented Viagra).
  • 0

Image

Edgar Cabrera wrote:HOLY SHIT GUYS, IT'S DOGLOVINGJIM!!! HE'S HERE!!!

skoobadive wrote:It's the legendary DoglovingJim! Ohboy, this must be the greatest day of my life!

Cracked.com wrote:Initially, his interest in animals was "primarily a sexual attraction," but as he grew older, he also "developed the emotional attraction." We guess we could call what Jim does ... dog-lovin'
User avatar
DoglovingJim
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 2313
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:07 am
Location: No block of land is going to tie Jim and his dogs down.
Show rep
Title: Manly Man

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby cmsellers » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:24 pm

Windy wrote:why are humans the only animals without a penis bone

Are we in reruns already?
  • 0

User avatar
cmsellers
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 7221
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:20 pm
Location: Three miles from the bat bridge
Show rep
Title: Bat out of Hell

Re: Ask me about evolution

Postby Windy » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:09 pm

If evolution is so great why are humans naturally inclined to destroy their own civilization every few decades?
  • 1

User avatar
Windy
TCS Junkie
TCS Junkie
 
Posts: 2872
Joined: Fri May 29, 2015 11:41 am
Show rep

Previous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest