genetics

Showing 5 posts tagged genetics

The question “Who was the first human?” was a very popular one in our house just last year, but the evolution videos we had in the archives – even the awesome Five Fingers of Evolution TED Ed video – didn’t answer it directly enough for my kids. This visual-filled video timeline from Joe Hanson of It’s Okay to Be Smart does: There was no first human.

You can never pinpoint the exact moment that a species came to be, because it never did. Just like how you used to be a baby and now you’re older, but there was no single day when you went to bed young and woke up old…

There was no first human. It sounds like a paradox, it sounds like it breaks the whole theory of evolution, but it’s really a key to truly understanding how evolution works. 

Also, your grandparents (a hundred eight-five million generations removed) were fish!

In the archives, more videos about evolution, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains evolution, and a related must-watch video about our human history: Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar from the original Cosmos.

From jtotheizzoe.

This incredible animation by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck chronicles the story of British naturalist, anthropologist, biologist, geographer, and intrepid adventurer Alfred Russel Wallace, who was also Charles Darwin's lesser-known partner on the joint presentation On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. From Smithsonian Mag: 

It was during fits of malaria that Wallace started to come up with the idea of natural selection. He sent his manuscript to Darwin, who puts together a set of notes to be presented alongside Wallace’s. When the Linnean Society of London hears the case for natural selection in 1858, Wallace and Darwin share the credit.

So what happened? Why do we remember Darwin and not Wallace? Well, for one, when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, he barely mentions Wallace at all. And Wallace doesn’t complain. In fact, he loves the book. And with that, he fades away.

Though we doubt the story was quite that simple. Read more about the differences of their ideas, see more of Wallace’s Collection (like these) at London’s Natural History Museum, and check out another of his contributions: the Wallace Line.

Related watching: TED Ed’s Five Fingers of Evolution and How Mendel’s pea plants helped us understand genetics, and previously from Lichtman and Shattuck, a favorite: Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale).

via sagan sense.

Karl Sims is a digital media artist, computer graphics research scientist, and software entrepreneur. His influential artificial life computer animations, like this one from 1994, were programmed as virtual creatures that simulated evolution through genetic algorithms:

This video shows results from a research project involving simulated Darwinian evolutions of virtual block creatures. A population of several hundred creatures is created within a supercomputer, and each creature is tested for their ability to perform a given task, such the ability to swim in a simulated water environment. Those that are most successful survive, and their virtual genes containing coded instructions for their growth, are copied, combined, and mutated to make offspring for a new population. The new creatures are again tested, and some may be improvements on their parents. As this cycle of variation and selection continues, creatures with more and more successful behaviors can emerge.

The creatures shown are results from many independent simulations in which they were selected for swimming, walking, jumping, following, and competing for control of a green cube.

Thanks, @benjohnbarnes.

From TEDEd, there is a five finger trick for understanding and remembering the five processes — small population, non-random mating, mutations, gene flow, adaptation — that impact evolution (ie. the changes in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation). This video, narrated by Paul Andersen and animated by Alan Foreman, is seriously so excellent.

via Explore.