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Evolution; Endangered Species

Evolution, evolution is a very touchy subject. It is also a very debatable subject in regards to many different things and the way that they’re taken. But it is something that I personally find very interesting. There’s something that I question actually and it’s not exactly on topic of evolution but instead of an occurrence, extinction. We all know that extinction is the dying off of something, but specifically in this case species. So my question is, if extinction is so posed to be a natural part of life on Earth, why should we care about protecting endangered species?


extinction-risk

This pie chart here is a proportion of all assessed species in different threat categories of extinction risk on the IUCN Red List, based on data from 47,677 species. Source: IUCN, pie chart compiled by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, May 2010.




extinction-risk-by-species




This visualization here are the threat statuses of comprehensively assessed species by IUCN. Source: IUCN, compiled by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, May 2010.


Endangered species are species in which are dying off due to natural or some other source of endangerment to their habitat. A very good point is that trying to save each and every endangered species is something that is practically impossible. Things we do everyday kill our world and animals habitats in a way and these aren’t things that can just change, their things that take time. But against that you can say that we are doing things to try and help like helping clean, recycling, coming up with different gases, and solar energy. A question for your thought on this though is, is it all worth it?

Personally i am a big believer that it is worth saving endangered species but not all them individually. I feel that an ideal strategy would be to focus on putting limits for human impact to entire ecosystems instead of protecting individual species based on some chances that they have of recovery over others. Chris Packman a TV naturalist did hit a good point in an article i read on extinction. He say's, "Extinction is very much a part of life on earth. And we are going to have to get used to it in the next few years because climate change is going to result in all sorts of disappearances." This was said in an article about saving Pandas (pandas in which are part of an endangered species) to where he is on the side of yes and is for saving them. But in that same article chief scientist at World Wide Fund for Nature says no, and because he feels that to much has already gone to them and not the purpose of habitat.  

I guess the answer to my question ultimately comes down to personal belief and opinion towards the subject. Although something that can be taken from this is that human-induced warming is already rapid and is expected to further accelerate. We as humans are not only harming habitats by doing stuff we have become accustomed to but also hurting ourselves with endangering our environment. 

A great video on this is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS0gpU6P-6M

Sources:
1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/23/panda-extinction-chris-packham
2) http://www.createdebate.com/user/viewprofile/PungSviti
3) http://www.globalissues.org/article/171/loss-of-biodiversity-and-extinctions
4) http://www.skepticalscience.com/Can-animals-and-plants-adapt-to-global-warming.html

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"Extinction Happens!"


What does it mean for the process of evolution when a species becomes extinct?

The process of evolution depends greatly on the environment itself. While evolution is the change in a species over time, natural selection is the primary mechanism of change for evolution to occur. When natural selection happens, it determines what organisms are best adapted to the environment in order to survive and reproduce, passing on traits to the next generation. The organisms that pass off those traits withhold genes that are “fit” to comprise the next generation. The environment influences the genetic characteristics of an organism’s population, which changes over time.

Evolution can have three outcomes. The species can survive successfully in the environment and live on for a long time, undergoing few changes. In the second case natural selection may induce speciation, changing the older species into a new one or the third case in which, disruptive selection can occur. “A sudden shift in the environment such as a loss of habitat, a species may not been able to live long enough to reproduce. If this happens, then the species will become extinct, will die and be loss from Earth's future forever.” - Dr. Smith, from the University of San Diego

Ultimately, I’ve concluded that for the process of evolution, extinction is result of the cycle (of evolution) that is not suppose to happen. The primary goal of evolution of is to invoke change in a species so it is able to survive over time and when disruptive selection occurs the species may have a difficult time doing that, which can result in extinction. While extinction occurs in some species, I believe it is also a natural part of the evolution process that just happens. We always hear on the news about animals going extinct and how we should save the polar bears and what not, which makes sense. If there is something about the environment that humans are doing that is contributing to the extinction of these animals then it’s not natural, we should try to save the species. However, if a meteorite comes out of sky destroying all living things that’s just evolutions way of saying “Extinction Happens!” if you catch my drift. Either that or the gods are just really angry at us.

extinction-2extinction

Sources

theend
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Are humans Still evolving?


evolution

Humans are still evolving. It has been argued that the way that society is set up means that virtually everyone will reproduce, ruling out the selection pressures which were once driving us to evolve. Though in truth, we're evolving faster then ever, Or as Dr. John Hawks said, "The widespread assumption that human evolution has slowed down because it's easier to live and we've conquered nature is absolutely not true. We didn't conquer nature, we changed it in ways that created new selection pressures on us."

A study, led by Dr. John Hawks, has found that humans are evolving up to 100 times faster in the last 5000 years then they have been since we split with the ancestors of Chimps. The study has also found that humans are becoming more genetically diverse, depend on what part of the world they live in. such as the gene for lighter skin in northern Europe, or the African population becoming resistant to Malaria. Or how a majority of the Chinese and African population cannot digest lactose in milk, but a majority of Europeans have a lactose-tolerance gene. One reason could be that in northern Europe there is less sunlight and its lower in intensity, so people make less vitamin D in their skin. Vitamin D is critical for absorbing calcium, so people in Europe needed to be able to digest lactose to increase the amount of Vitamin D they have.



evolution
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Does evolution stop once a species has become a "species?"

Does evolution stop once a species has become a species?
             Well my question was, does evolution stop once a species has become a “species?” And from what I have researched, evolution does not stop once a species becomes a species. Every population of living organisms is enduring some sort of evolution. Even though they’re undergoing a some sort of change, though the extent speed of the process varies significantly from one group to another. Populations that experience a great change in environmental conditions, whether that change comes in the form of a new predator or a new island to disperse to, evolve much more quickly than do populations in a more stable set of conditions. This is because evolution is driven by natural selection, and because when the environment changes, selective pressures change, favoring one portion of the population more heavily than it was favored before the change.

"Evolution: Frequently Asked Questions." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 12 Nov. 2010. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/faq/cat05.html#Q03>
Screen shot 2010-11-12 at 11.26.17 AM
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Is Jealousy an Evolutionary Adaptation?

“Despite its tragic impact on the modern world (the overwhelming majority of mate battering and spousal murders worldwide is caused by jealous violence), jealousy very likely emerged around 3.5 million years ago in our hominid ancestors as evolutionary adaptive response of vital evolutionary value for both genders”, according to Jorge N. Ferrer. Jealousy provided as an evolutionary adaptation for males to assure paternity and to avoid spending resources on other male’s offspring. Furthermore, females use jealousy to guarantee protection and support for her offspring by having a steady partner. This might explain why men feel intense feelings of jealousy if they suspect their partner of sexual infidelity and why women feel intense jealousy when they suspect their partner of emotional attachment with someone else. Interestingly enough, this modern analysis provides a connection between “gender- specific jealousy” and jealousy as an evolutionary adaptation.

Moreover, a new study at University Of Portsmouth challenges the scientific belief that only humans and chimpanzee are able to experience “secondary emotions” such as jealousy, shame and pride. They found that dogs demonstrate human-like jealousy when another human or animal are brought in to make a “love triangle.” Scientists found that dogs get particularly jealous when their owner showed affection to an outside party. Scientist from the University reported dogs demonstrated jealousy 80 percent of the time.

            Additionally, according to evolutionary psychology, jealousy is a genetic instinct used to enable possessiveness. This allows monogamy to become possible. Jealousy is simply a defense mechanism that might naturally occur if the joy of his or her partner were to arise because of someone else. Polygamists (those who life an alternative lifestyle where a man may have more than one spouse) commonly dismiss their natural instincts. For example, the Kerista community of San Franisco has coined the term “compersion” which is said to be a “non-sexual state of empathetic happiness and joy experienced when an individual's romantic partner experiences happiness and joy through an outside source, including, but not limited to, another romantic interest.”


Citations


Ferrer, Jorge N.. "Monogamy, Polyamory, and Beyond." Tikkun 22.1 (2007): 37-43, 60-2. OmniFile Full Text Mega. Web. 28 Oct. 2010.


http://www.google.com/search?sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=active&client=firefox-a&hs=zIX&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&source=hp&q=define%3A+compersion&aq=f&aqi=&aql=f&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1

 

http://www.physorg.com/news75357071.html



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What Effect Has Evolution Had on The Human Brain Thus Far?


human-brain-evolution

The most complicated object in the known universe is the human brain. On average, our brain contains about eleven billion neurons. Each one working to send, receive and process electrochemical signals. Our thoughts, emotions, movements and very existence are dependent on processes within the brain that are still largely a mystery to us. One may wonder how such a wondrous and complex organ came to be. It is here that we begin to decipher the effect of evolution on the human brain.

Assuming the theory of evolution, that organisms more suited to their environment can survive better and mate, it makes sense that, somehow, having a larger and more complex brain makes survival on Earth easier. Indeed, if one were to look at the brain size of our hominid ancestors from four million years ago, it would be discovered that their brains were a mere 400 grams. Compare that to the present size- over 1400 grams (1.4kg).

But it was more than sheer size that changed, but the actual structure of the brain. What happened earliest was the centralization of the brain’s nerve cells. What started as a loose and messy grouping of cells that would be seen in a jellyfish, turned into a spinal column and enlarged fore- and hindbrain. These parts of the brain that are relatively new are known as neocortical, literally “new brain”. Actually, things such as our abilities to speak, plan, and be conscious of our own existence depend on neocortical structures. This means that when the brain became more complex, we gained a completely different way to interact with our world. Language allowed humans to organize themselves and hunt more effectively- and having a larger and more complex brain allowed a higher capacity for intelligence, thought, and planning. These are all things that gave humanity an advantage against predators, prey, and the world’s wide variety of dangerous natural elements.

The brain also experienced a phenomenon known as encephalization, which is the concentration of sense organs and neurons in one part of the body. This is why the brain, olfactory sense, hearing, and sight are all housed in the head. This made it easier for the brain to work because the signals that neurons use wouldn’t have to travel as far if the brain is all in one place.

Evolution caused the brain to become larger, more complex, and more efficient. Much how we make our computers with more space, more speed and efficiency with every new generation (this excludes Apple, of course). There is certainly is proof of our brain’s effect on the world. Humans are definitely a thriving species. One may also consider the worldwide subjugation and abuse of animals to be proof of our dominance as a species.

But it is important to remember that neurology has only scratched the surface when it comes to the human brain. There are still plenty of things we don’t know, actually we don’t know most things. There could be all kinds of secrets within the brain waiting to be unlocked, like other senses, the power of thought, or ways to become more intelligent faster. All this would also make one wonder what evolutionary stage the brain will achieve in another thousand years.


Works Cited:

Brain evolution. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.youramazingbrain.org.uk/insidebrain/brainevolution.htm

Evolution and the brain. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7146/full/447753a.html

Without miracles 5 brain evolution and development. (2010). Retrieved from http://faculty.ed.uiuc.edu/g-cziko/wm/05.html

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Curiosity And Humans


Topic: Why, as humans, must know the answers to questions such as evolution and other scientific theories?

David Quammen's "Was Darwin Wrong?" immediately allowed me to raise the question, why can't we just agree to disagree? Well, Quammen mentions that if you are skeptical by nature and are unfamiliar with science then those are the people who are unaware of the overwhelming evidence and confess that evolution is "'just' a theory." This statement allows me to believe that every human being has evolved to be curious, but to different degrees. Without our curiosity we would have built the civilization way have today. It probably all began in the following mind processing:
  • Cavemen accidentally discover fire
  • Is intrigued by the discovery
  • Leads to creation and discovery
  • Because of the new found way of life, there needs to be a new form of communication
  • Experiments with manual communication
  • Then to verbal communication
  • New form of communication spread and changed with different communities
  • After learning a more efficient way to communicate, a "civilized" way of living begins
This is my theory of how curiosity has evolved humans to be the way that they are. However we are still evolving with curiosity each day. From children and imagination, to doctors and scientist forming new cures for diseases. And soon, in 2050 we just may have an entirely new way of living, due to curiosity.


Citations:
http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/curiosity.htm
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0411/feature1/fulltext.html
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/evolution/curiosity1.htm
http://www.lorencoleman.com/cabinet_of_curiosities/curiosity2.jpg
curiosity2
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Are Humans Still Evolving?

300_179975
Studies show that the human race is still evolving. Children are becoming shorter and heavier with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Women generally have their first child at a younger age. According to TIMES magazine women who are stout and heavier have more children because they ovulate more regularly. This agrees with why children are shorter and heavier.

ScienceDaily completed a long-term experiment that explains all of these traits. They did a study of the same people and their children over the course of 60 years.  Their conclusions showed that humans are still evolving, and children are becoming shorter and heavier.


Humans are still evolving, but how fast are things changing? “The changes may be slow and gradual, but the predicted rates of change are no different from those observed elsewhere in nature, the researchers say.”  Humans aren’t going to be extinct anytime soon, but we will be eventually. The more technology we have, the less we rely on natural selection.


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Evolution of Intelligence

Why does a species evolve to speak? What causes something evolves to the point where it can think, “hey this fruit is too high maybe I can use these rocks to get it down”.  Like with many things a credible theory for why would be evolution. If we look on our branch we will find Chimpanzees.  Chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor and for all purposes are our sister species.  Like humans there is more to what they do then eating and mating. They have figured out how to communicate with each other, they work together to accomplish goals. They can stop and analyze a situation rather then just jumping in. they make use of tools in their surroundings to help them complete their goals. They care what other members of their species think about and fall into ranks under who has the most food or best ability to get food. And they are quite capable of using deception to gain the advantage over other members of their species. At the moment it is unknown exactly what caused us to develop the way we did and what caused our relatives to evolve the way we did. But what this does show is that intelligence is a evolutionary trait and not something we just have. It shows that something must have gone right in our branch’s past to allow us to be how we are today.

apes-and-humans-tree



http://www.indiana.edu/~origins/teach/A105/lectures/A105L12.html



picture provided from: Richard E. Leakey, The Making of Mankind, Michael Joseph Limited

found at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ee/origin-of-humans 
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