Evolution news

Aquatic Apes

David Attenborough's recent TV programme that waltzed around the aquatic ape theory has been given a roasting in some quarters (at WattsUpWithThat for example). A response at http://theconversation.com/sorry-david-attenborough-we-didnt-evolve-from... ... encapsulates the negative  reaction but the comments at the WattsUpWithThat piece may perhaps catch the flavour of the response from the general public.

stromatolites

At http://phys.org/print391942311.html ... the world's oldest fossils have been found in Greenland - going back 3700 million years ago (or 3.7 billion years ago) which is surprising as this means bacterial life was present half a billion years after the planet was formed. At this time, and for thousands of millions of years afterwards, life consisted of single cells. Stromatolite fossils are mounds of carbonate constructed by microbial life forms and they represent obvious evidence such communities existed.

deep in the depths

At http://phys.org/print346320029.html ... the story is initially about the discovery of a new virus on the ocean floor. Research now brings into the open various questions about the evolution and interaction of microbes inside the Earth - where the key word is inside. It is now thought, said one of the authors, Sarah Bagby, there is more biomass inside the Earth than anywhere else, living at a very slow pace in a dark and energy deficient environment.

Fossil Whales

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205103701.htm ... research by a student at the University of Otago in New Zealand took him to California, to a geological formation in San Francisco Bay. He has managed to piece together, with some help, 21 mammals, including dwarf baleen whale, double tusked walrus, porpoises and dolphins, and a fossil whale, an early relative of the Minke. Published in the journal Geodiversitas (2014), the fossils are said to date back 2 million years ago, when the water off shore from California were warmer.

Milk digestion amongst European people

Lactose tolerance evolved - it is a genetic change. At http://phys.org/print309711543.html ... we have a story about milk digestion and lactose tolerance. A research undergraduate has analysed DNA from the teeth of a human living in central Europe around one thousand years ago. Not exactly historical, as such, but the results showed that people at that time had a similar genetic predisposition for milk digestion as in present day people in the region. In other words, lactose tolerance was more widespread than previously believed.

Blind cave fish

At www.geneticarchaeology.com/research/blind_cavefish_offer_evidence_for_al... ... the eyeless cave fish from Mexico present evidence of a mechanism of evolutionary change that is distinct from natural selection of spontaneously arising mutations, according to a paper in the journal Science (Dec 2013). Gene variants that improve the animal's ability to adapt to a new environment can be passed on to progeny, a distinct difference from the established mechanism of chance mutations.

Alfred Wallace

At http://phys.org/print291361534.html ... news of a new book on the discovery of evolution, John Wyhe, Dispelling the Darkness: Voyages in the Malay Archipelago. Alfred Wallace was the contemporary of Darwin and both reached the same conclusion at virtually the same point in time - evolution was a viable biological explanation for the development of life, and the species.

Complex Brains

At www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/05/the-human-neocortex-more-complex-t... ... a blog post with an interesting video to watch, Carl Sagan and Roger Penrose discussing the neocortex and the make-up of the human head (and the complexities of the brain). According to Penrose, what is in our heads is orders of magnitude more complex than anything one sees in the Universe. Our brains are a tiny part of the cosmos but they are perfectly organised.

Evolution of legs in the trees

Coming hot on the heels of the news that Lucy lived in the trees is another spike in the hide of the consensus hymn sheet. A new study questions some cherished beliefs central to the hypothetical, and uniformitarian, concept of how humans evolved from apes - from swinging in trees to walking on two legs. It took a lot of time. It involved small changes over loads of time. It involved habitat change and enforced adaptation ... and so forth.

Genetics and Evolution

A good article on evolution can be found at www.geneticarchaeology.com/research/Far_from_random_evolution_follows_a_... ... which raises the possibility evolution may not be random but may be driven by a simple and repeated genetic solution to environmental pressure that a broad range of species just happens to share.