Chromosome 2: Two ChromosomesPossibly one of my favorite examples of why evolution is practically an unquestionable fact lies in a genetic novelty. As a large proportion of you will know, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. What less of you will probably know is that chimpanzees, gorillas and other members of family Hominidae (to which we also belong) all have 24 pairs of chromosomes. So where did that extra chromosome go? The answer lies in a quick glance at chromosome 2 which is the second largest human chromosome, storing 8% of all our genes. Chromosome 2 has several odd features such as the existence of the remnants of a second centromere along with extra telomeres (the regions at the end of a chromosome). The sequence of base pairs on chromosome 2 also corresponds almost exactly with two other chromosomes found in other members of hominidae which is fairly strong evidence for the fusion of two chromosomes at some point in our past. Chromosome 2 has also been linked to increased intelligence along with also being the chromosome that carries the genes for autism, synesthesia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is better known as the motor-neuron disease that Stephen Hawking has.

Chromosome 2: Two Chromosomes

Possibly one of my favorite examples of why evolution is practically an unquestionable fact lies in a genetic novelty. As a large proportion of you will know, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. What less of you will probably know is that chimpanzees, gorillas and other members of family Hominidae (to which we also belong) all have 24 pairs of chromosomes. So where did that extra chromosome go? The answer lies in a quick glance at chromosome 2 which is the second largest human chromosome, storing 8% of all our genes. Chromosome 2 has several odd features such as the existence of the remnants of a second centromere along with extra telomeres (the regions at the end of a chromosome). The sequence of base pairs on chromosome 2 also corresponds almost exactly with two other chromosomes found in other members of hominidae which is fairly strong evidence for the fusion of two chromosomes at some point in our past. Chromosome 2 has also been linked to increased intelligence along with also being the chromosome that carries the genes for autism, synesthesia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is better known as the motor-neuron disease that Stephen Hawking has.

Nature’s One and Only Iridescent Mammal: The Golden MoleGolden Moles (Family: Chrysochloridae) are not true moles, but rather have converged evolutionarily on a similar body plan. Like other true moles the desert varieties of golden mole also don’t construct burrows but rather appear to “swim” through sand. Another interesting fact is that they’ve also evolved such efficient kidneys that most species don’t need to drink water. These African natives are also the only known mammal to display iridescence despite being blind. So what really is the point to this fellow’s lustrous fur? It seems this is simply a quirk of the mole’s hair and doesn’t directly convey any advantage. The hairs themselves were found to be flattened with alternating scales of light and dark, this both gives the hairs a greater surface area to reflect light and the scale colouration refracted light just like oil on water. The actual reason for this structure is thought to be that it helps to repel dirt and water whilst also making the mole more streamlined. Regardless of what the reason is I really want a shiny, blind mole.

Nature’s One and Only Iridescent Mammal: The Golden Mole

Golden Moles (Family: Chrysochloridae) are not true moles, but rather have converged evolutionarily on a similar body plan. Like other true moles the desert varieties of golden mole also don’t construct burrows but rather appear to “swim” through sand. Another interesting fact is that they’ve also evolved such efficient kidneys that most species don’t need to drink water. These African natives are also the only known mammal to display iridescence despite being blind. So what really is the point to this fellow’s lustrous fur? It seems this is simply a quirk of the mole’s hair and doesn’t directly convey any advantage. The hairs themselves were found to be flattened with alternating scales of light and dark, this both gives the hairs a greater surface area to reflect light and the scale colouration refracted light just like oil on water. The actual reason for this structure is thought to be that it helps to repel dirt and water whilst also making the mole more streamlined. Regardless of what the reason is I really want a shiny, blind mole.

We all grew up under the assumption that dinosaurs were all rather scaly, however over the last few years the idea of feathery dinosaurs has been gaining popularity. When you think about it, this notion doesn’t seem so bizarre as modern day birds are known to have evolved rather directly from dinosaurs and the closest extant relative to birds is in fact crocodiles. But now finally we have some hard evidence of late cretaceous (some 70 to 80 million years ago) dinosaurs having some simple plumage which was trapped and perfectly preserved in amber. These are the first glimpses we have into the detailed structure and pigmentation of feathers belonging to early birds.

We all grew up under the assumption that dinosaurs were all rather scaly, however over the last few years the idea of feathery dinosaurs has been gaining popularity. When you think about it, this notion doesn’t seem so bizarre as modern day birds are known to have evolved rather directly from dinosaurs and the closest extant relative to birds is in fact crocodiles. But now finally we have some hard evidence of late cretaceous (some 70 to 80 million years ago) dinosaurs having some simple plumage which was trapped and perfectly preserved in amber. These are the first glimpses we have into the detailed structure and pigmentation of feathers belonging to early birds.

cosmosplasma:

‘Game-changer’ in evolution from S. African bones
This image released by the journal Science shows the right hand skeleton of the adult female Australopithecus sediba against a modern human hand. A detailed analysis of 2 million-year-old bones found in South Africa offers the most powerful case so far in identifying the transitional figure that came before modern humans, findings some are calling a potential game-changer in understanding evolution. The hand, seen in a palmar view, lacks three wrist bones and four terminal phalanges, but is otherwise complete. [Read More]

cosmosplasma:

‘Game-changer’ in evolution from S. African bones

This image released by the journal Science shows the right hand skeleton of the adult female Australopithecus sediba against a modern human hand. A detailed analysis of 2 million-year-old bones found in South Africa offers the most powerful case so far in identifying the transitional figure that came before modern humans, findings some are calling a potential game-changer in understanding evolution. The hand, seen in a palmar view, lacks three wrist bones and four terminal phalanges, but is otherwise complete. [Read More]

Warning: the following is incredibly awesome.The above picture shows a Cuban nectar bat and a bizarrely shaped flower. The shape of this flower has evolved to allow an extraordinary way of attracting bats to work as pollinators. It’s a well known fact that flowers often have special UV patterns that bees can see and this flower works on a similar way. The concave shape in fact works like a satellite dish and interferes with the sonic waves used by the bat. This not only gives a 100 degree angle of reflection of the waves (as opposed to the mere 5 degree distribution of other plants) but also modulates the shape of the sound wave to give a unique “sound” which is almost like an echo.

Warning: the following is incredibly awesome.

The above picture shows a Cuban nectar bat and a bizarrely shaped flower. The shape of this flower has evolved to allow an extraordinary way of attracting bats to work as pollinators. It’s a well known fact that flowers often have special UV patterns that bees can see and this flower works on a similar way. The concave shape in fact works like a satellite dish and interferes with the sonic waves used by the bat. This not only gives a 100 degree angle of reflection of the waves (as opposed to the mere 5 degree distribution of other plants) but also modulates the shape of the sound wave to give a unique “sound” which is almost like an echo.

dangerousfastfoodday:


Octopi
The octopus has been heralded as the most intelligent invertebrate on the planet, and its use of tools is often improvised. This little guy is carrying two halves of a shell with him; when threatened he closes the shells over him to hide. Similarly, the Blanket octopus has been known to tear off tentacles from a jellyfish and wield them as a weapon when attacked.

dangerousfastfoodday:

Octopi

The octopus has been heralded as the most intelligent invertebrate on the planet, and its use of tools is often improvised. This little guy is carrying two halves of a shell with him; when threatened he closes the shells over him to hide. Similarly, the Blanket octopus has been known to tear off tentacles from a jellyfish and wield them as a weapon when attacked.

(Source: gypsybitch2011, via ocean-ology)

The Science of LoveThere are many ways to look at this, to most of you examining such a personal emotion under the microscope of science may turn out to be a depressing venture, but I think that the process behind it is equally if not more fascinating.
From an evolutionary point of view the concept of love is an almost necessary mechanism. Most primates are not monogamists (The “mate for life” idea seen in such animals as swans), humans seem to have been pushed by selection pressures to be mostly monogamous but it will take a while to remove all that more primal ape hardwiring. The main benefit of love from an evolutionary sense is that it allows the offspring a greater chance of survival as both parents are “trapped” by a biochemical pathway into protecting the offspring and each other. The advantage of this may have come about from reduced reproductive capacity, perhaps in turn due to the adoption of bipedal locomotion.The chemical aspect of love is a bit more complicated, it is at it’s truest form a type of subconscious positive reinforcement technique. You see someone attractive or do things that you associate with love and you are rewarded by a rush of dopamine and serotonin amongst other chemicals and hormones. In the long term one particular chemical comes into play: oxytocin. Oxytocin’s role is to form long lasting associations and it’s often been observed in relatively high doses in the system of mothers with children, couples in love and in fact even just people playing with their dogs. It’s also interesting to point out that in new lovers the serotonin levels present are comparable to that of OCD sufferers.The following bit is more “psychological facts” and as such should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. Or a whole bucket. Apparently it takes around about 4 minutes for an individual to decide if they’re interested in someone. Another interesting experiment conducted was by Arthur Aron, a professor at York University. His experiment detailed people talking about intimate details of their lives and then simply staring into each others eyes for 4 minutes. This experiment showed that these two factors can be linked to level of attraction. It’s also worth noting that two of the people involved ended up getting married 6 months later.

The Science of Love

There are many ways to look at this, to most of you examining such a personal emotion under the microscope of science may turn out to be a depressing venture, but I think that the process behind it is equally if not more fascinating.

From an evolutionary point of view the concept of love is an almost necessary mechanism. Most primates are not monogamists (The “mate for life” idea seen in such animals as swans), humans seem to have been pushed by selection pressures to be mostly monogamous but it will take a while to remove all that more primal ape hardwiring. The main benefit of love from an evolutionary sense is that it allows the offspring a greater chance of survival as both parents are “trapped” by a biochemical pathway into protecting the offspring and each other. The advantage of this may have come about from reduced reproductive capacity, perhaps in turn due to the adoption of bipedal locomotion.

The chemical aspect of love is a bit more complicated, it is at it’s truest form a type of subconscious positive reinforcement technique. You see someone attractive or do things that you associate with love and you are rewarded by a rush of dopamine and serotonin amongst other chemicals and hormones. In the long term one particular chemical comes into play: oxytocin. Oxytocin’s role is to form long lasting associations and it’s often been observed in relatively high doses in the system of mothers with children, couples in love and in fact even just people playing with their dogs. It’s also interesting to point out that in new lovers the serotonin levels present are comparable to that of OCD sufferers.

The following bit is more “psychological facts” and as such should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. Or a whole bucket. Apparently it takes around about 4 minutes for an individual to decide if they’re interested in someone. Another interesting experiment conducted was by Arthur Aron, a professor at York University. His experiment detailed people talking about intimate details of their lives and then simply staring into each others eyes for 4 minutes. This experiment showed that these two factors can be linked to level of attraction. It’s also worth noting that two of the people involved ended up getting married 6 months later.

I posted about treehoppers ages ago, but I never ceased to be amazed by their camouflage techniques. The bug seen above has evolved to look like a European rhinoceros beatle. The “helmet” is in fact made from a set of vestigial wings.

I posted about treehoppers ages ago, but I never ceased to be amazed by their camouflage techniques. The bug seen above has evolved to look like a European rhinoceros beatle. The “helmet” is in fact made from a set of vestigial wings.

"It’s only a theory"

When you think about it this is actually more of an argument for evolution. Most people counter this ridiculous logic by saying “Well so is gravity you n00b”. I think a much better approach would be “Yes, it is a theory, and do you know what a theory really is? The brilliant part about a theory under the positivist scientific method is that it can’t actually be proven, it can only ever be disproven. Evolution being a theory is really a testament to the fact that it has not be disproven despite rigorous scientific scrutiny”.

This critter is the Laotian Rock Rat or the kha-nyou as it is known natively. The cool thing about this wee guy is that it may be the only remaining member of it’s family that was thought to have died out 11 million years ago, at any rate it’s so distinct from any other rodent it’s been placed in it’s own family anyways. The other interesting thing is that this rare and endangered animal was first discovered in a Laotian food market. Yes, they eat these things.

This critter is the Laotian Rock Rat or the kha-nyou as it is known natively. The cool thing about this wee guy is that it may be the only remaining member of it’s family that was thought to have died out 11 million years ago, at any rate it’s so distinct from any other rodent it’s been placed in it’s own family anyways. The other interesting thing is that this rare and endangered animal was first discovered in a Laotian food market. Yes, they eat these things.

Something I’ve always wondered about is the evolution of multicellular organisms. It seems quite a complex and bizarre thing to happen. For a group of unicellular organisms to arise at the same time that all “want” to behave in a basic multicellular fashion. However it’s thought to have happened not just once but at least 20 times in the past.
Recently a simple experiment was preformed to emulate the evolution of the multicellular behavior. Brewer’s yeast, as seen above, is not a typically multicellular organism and was allowed to grow away quite happily in unicellular form. Then the batch was centrifuged and the yeast from the bottom of this centrifuged mix was used to inoculate the next culture. The idea behind the centrifuging is that clumps of yeast will move to the bottom of the mixture while single yeast cells will migrate to the surface. This process was repeated until after about 350 generations all culture lines showed the desired clumping behavior. A few more hundred generations and interestingly enough programmed cell death could be observed in the protomulticellular organisms.The problem with this experiment however is that some varieties of yeast already form basic multicellular forms and that in the past Brewer’s yeast probably did as well. This however has caused the experiment to be repeated with organisms that have never shown this behavior in the evolutionary past such as certain sea algae.

Something I’ve always wondered about is the evolution of multicellular organisms. It seems quite a complex and bizarre thing to happen. For a group of unicellular organisms to arise at the same time that all “want” to behave in a basic multicellular fashion. However it’s thought to have happened not just once but at least 20 times in the past.

Recently a simple experiment was preformed to emulate the evolution of the multicellular behavior. Brewer’s yeast, as seen above, is not a typically multicellular organism and was allowed to grow away quite happily in unicellular form. Then the batch was centrifuged and the yeast from the bottom of this centrifuged mix was used to inoculate the next culture. The idea behind the centrifuging is that clumps of yeast will move to the bottom of the mixture while single yeast cells will migrate to the surface. This process was repeated until after about 350 generations all culture lines showed the desired clumping behavior. A few more hundred generations and interestingly enough programmed cell death could be observed in the protomulticellular organisms.

The problem with this experiment however is that some varieties of yeast already form basic multicellular forms and that in the past Brewer’s yeast probably did as well. This however has caused the experiment to be repeated with organisms that have never shown this behavior in the evolutionary past such as certain sea algae.

14-billion-years-later:

Madagascar is home to the only two species of sucker footed bat. Yeah, that’s right, sucker footed bat, they’re like the hellish offspring of an octopus and a bat. The bats belong to the genus Myzopoda and have evolved this quirk as a method of climbing tree leaves in which they roost, specifically in the rolled up leaves of palms like a nightmarish burrito. The two species however live in remarkably different climates, one species known as the western sucker footed bat lives in a more dry environment which makes it greater suited to surviving the deforestation of Madagascar while the other prefers humid environments. The suckers in question don’t actually rely on suction but rather a form of adhesive that is secreted onto the pads.

 I made this post awhile ago but decided to reblog myself due to it being about bats and the fact it’s one of my favorite posts and most people wouldn’t have seen it.

14-billion-years-later:

Madagascar is home to the only two species of sucker footed bat. Yeah, that’s right, sucker footed bat, they’re like the hellish offspring of an octopus and a bat. The bats belong to the genus Myzopoda and have evolved this quirk as a method of climbing tree leaves in which they roost, specifically in the rolled up leaves of palms like a nightmarish burrito. The two species however live in remarkably different climates, one species known as the western sucker footed bat lives in a more dry environment which makes it greater suited to surviving the deforestation of Madagascar while the other prefers humid environments. The suckers in question don’t actually rely on suction but rather a form of adhesive that is secreted onto the pads.

 I made this post awhile ago but decided to reblog myself due to it being about bats and the fact it’s one of my favorite posts and most people wouldn’t have seen it.

(via ravynlarue15)