Evolution Debates


Evolution Debates

January 2016
New Discoveries on the Evolution of the Eye as our window on the universe

December 2015
Darwin’s Finches are at risk of extinction.

Dr. Patricia Sánchez-Baracaldo paper on the  ‘Origin of marine planktonic cyanobacteria’ in Scientific Reports.

December 29, 2015. Science News.
Astrophysicist Takeshi Sakai believes large stars born in the stellar clusters 10,000 light-years away hold clues to the origins of life. He’s using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, ALMA, facilities in Chile to study the formation of stars, and looking at ‘high-mass’ stars formed in clusters that are approximately 10,000 light years from the Earth, since high mass stars play an important role in the evolution of galaxies and could ultimately hold the secrets of the origins of life on Earth.

December 2015
William Cresko University of Oregon describes rapidity of stickleback evolution.

June 18, 2012
A Darwinian natural selection algorithm, DarwinTunes, and the musical tastes of 7,000 Internet participants in the experiment, together aimed to create the perfect pop tune. An article on this research entitled Evolution of Music by Public Choice was published June 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Hypothesis: Cultural changes in language, art and music evolve through Darwinian natural selection, as living things evolve. First author, Dr. Bob MacCallum, a mosquito genomics bioinformatician in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, worked with Matthias Mauch, Austin Burta, and Armand Leroi, Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Biology from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, and an audience team of 7,000 internet participants, to simulate cultural evolution. Listeners scored loops in batches of 20 on a five-point scale from ‘I can’t stand it!’ to ‘I love it!’. DarwinTunes would then ‘mate’ the top ten loops, pairing them up as ‘parents’ and mingling musical elements of each pair, to create twenty new loops, which replace the original parents and non-parents that were less appealing tunes. Each rating round is one ‘generation’ of musical evolution. DarwinTunes had evolved through 2,513 generations when the article was published.The experiment asked: Can music be produced without a conscious, creative act? What does such music produced in this way sound like? How do “ideal tunes” of different listeners differ? Can those different listener preferences be crowdsourced to converge toward a generally agreed “ideal tune”? Also featured on the BBC, on MSNBC, and in Wired Magazine.

June 15, 2012
Henrietta Darwin’s Diary revisited.

June 2012
Debates about human fossil evidence continue.

May 30, 2012
The book Microbes and Evolution: The World That Darwin Never Sawfrom ASM Press celebrates Charles Darwin and his landmark publication, On the Origin of Species. The editors compiled 40 first-person essays, written by microbiologists with a passion for evolutionary biology, to illuminate how each scientist’s thinking and career paths in science were influenced by Darwin’s seminal work.

May 27, 2012
James Shapiro, author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Centuryand Professor of Microbiology at the University of Chicago, highlighted work presented at a recent conference on Evolution in the Age of Genomics by Peter and Rosemary Grant (Princeton), which emphasized the major role hybridization and introgression between distinct “species” played in producing genetic variability in the wild populations. (Introgression means the introduction of part of the genome from a distinct species.) Whenever there was high inherited variability in a particular population, examination of the DNA indicated that it arose from introgression from a different species. The Grants also described the formation of what would be classed as a new finch species resulting from the full hybridization of two distinct species, in stark contrast to the dictum of the late Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr that distinct species do not interbreed

May 23, 2012
A cascade of evolutionary change alters consumer-resource dynamics and ecosystem function as authors Matthew R. Walsh, John P. DeLong, Torrance C. Hanley and David M. Post of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University predict that intraspecific evolutionary divergence influences the properties of populations, communities and ecosystems and different ecological impacts of phenotypes and genotypes may alter selection on many species and promote a cascade of ecological and evolutionary change throughout the food web. Their theory predicts that evolutionary interactions across trophic levels may contribute to hypothesized feedbacks between ecology and evolution, although the importance of ‘cascading evolutionary change’ in a natural setting remains unknown.

Antibiotic Overuse May Increase Superbug Evolution

May 10, 2012
In her book Darwin’s Ghosts (Bloomsbury Publishing) Rebecca Stott recounts the 2000 year history of the intellectuals who grappled with the theories of evolution and natural selection centuries before Darwin. Reviews from the Christian Science Monitor, from The Guardian, and from The Telegraph.

September 23, 2011
The German National Academy of Sciences opens with the theme, ‘What is life?’ Leopoldina’s Annual Assembly will discuss the question of life and bridge the gap between natural sciences, the humanities and life sciences, focusing on the Origin of Life, Elementary Life Processes, and Synthetic Life. The meeting includes lectures by Israeli Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2009), Professor Ada E. Yonath on ribosomes as factories of life, German Nobel Laureate in Medicine (1995) Professor Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, “On the Evolution of Beauty” (“Zur Evolution der Schønheit”) and will explain how a zebra fish develops from stem cells.

June 2011
University of Utah anthropologist Alan R. Rogers‘ book, The Evidence for Evolution, fills in pieces that were missing from Darwin’s argument, which Darwin could not have known in his time.

March 18, 2011
Biology’s ‘dark matter’ hints at fourth domain of life, according toJonathan Eisen of the University of California at Davis.

February 2011
The Sins of Syn-Bio: How Synthetic Biology will bring us cheaper plastics by ruining the poorest nations on Earth. This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. A Future Tense conference on whether governments can keep pace with scientific advances was held at Google D.C.’s headquarters on Feb. 3-4, 2011. A counterargument was presented by Autodesk Distinguished Researcher Andrew Hessel: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dragon: Fears of synthetic biology are overblown.

January 2011
Harvard University Arnold Arboretum Director William “Ned” Friedman described how the early history of evolutionary thoughtwill be examined through the lens of Charles Darwin’s highly personal views of his evolutionist ancestors and the question of what set Darwin apart from the dozens of advocates of evolution who preceded him. Friedman described how by the 6th edition of Origin, Darwin credited 34 authors in his historical summary of those who preceded him. Scholars now believe that somewhere between 50 and 60 authors had beaten Darwin in their writings about evolution.

January 2011
Harvard geochemist Benjamin Gill is examining the oxygen-starved Black Sea as an analog of early Earth’s ancient oceans.

What can evolution teach us about ourselves? New releases from BigThink and the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

Charles Darwin spent more than eight years studying barnacles, and this work is available online. Recent work by Perez-Losada et al.debunks the view that the more evolved barnacles were more complex, having more shell plates. Barnacle evolution is describedas a revealing principles about evolution in general, referencing also studies of how deep-sea mussels adapt to changes in habitat.

September 2010
What would Darwin think? Man vs. the Galapagos

September 21-22, 2010
Researchers debate the origin of altruism

September 12, 2010
Comet impact shockwave may have planted seeds of life on Earth

Stanley Miller’s classic 1953 experiment revisited by at Lawrence Livermore Labs researchers.

Nir Goldman and his colleagues, who have found molecules in comets such as water, ammonia, methylene and carbon dioxide that might have started life on Earth. They published their discovery September 12 in Nature Chemistry.

August 25, 2010
Santa Fe Institute Study of 100 Million Years of Evolutionary Divergence leads to hypothesis of metabolic constraints.

August 21, 2010
Are we 10 years away from artificial life? by Jacob Silverman inScience.

August 18, 2010
Meet the microbes eating the Gulf oil spill. Scientific American.

August 12, 2010
Do stars “choose” the life around them? Astrobiology Magazine.

November 2010
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College Londonhosts online Issue Number 11: Science, Literature and the Darwin Legacy.

August 2010
David Biello and Katherine Harmon: Tools for Life: What’s Next for Cells Powered by Synthetic Genomes? The ability to make cells with artificial genomes bodes well for basic biology. Scientific American.

July 1, 2010
El Albani and his team had unexpectedly discovered perfectly preserved fossil remains the paleo-environment of a fossil-bearing site situated near Franceville in Gabon in 2008 and continued their search, discovering many more before publishing on their findings inNature, Vol. 466, No. 7302, July 1, 2010.

June 30, 2010
Discovery of a complex, multicellular life from over two billion years ago

June 16, 2010
Christophe Malaterre. Can Synthetic Biology Shed Light on the Origin of Life?
Biological Theory. MIT Press Journals. (Fall 2009), 4(4): 357-367

June 15, 2010
ScienceDaily – The Enigma of Guanine in the Origin of Life

June 11, 2010
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa probe to return in Australia, asteroid samples and the origin of life

June 7, 2010
The Flint Center at the University of Southern Denmark announced their research on living technologies.

June 3, 2010
Relevance of Greenhouse Gases to the Origin of Life and its Future
J. Lee Grenfell, an atmospheric chemist at the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany and lead author of the study featured in the journal Astrobiology. “We need to explain how, despite a fainter Sun, the surface could be warm enough to host liquid water.” Gaseous molecules like methane may have worked to heat the planet, keeping the oceans fluid and not frozen. Since liquid water is a prerequisite for Earth’s life, the greenhouse gases may have therefore played an important role in making the planet habitable.

Fractal Haze Could Solve Weak-Sun Mystery and “the faint young sun paradox” problem for the origin of life. Wired Science.

May 20, 2010 Science Express, July 2, 2010 full release
J. Craig Venter Institute announces the Synthesis of a Self-replicating Cell.
Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome. Science. 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5987, 2 July. 52 – 56
Daniel G. Gibson, John I. Glass, Carole Lartigue, Vladimir N. Noskov, Ray-Yuan Chuang, Mikkel A. Algire, Gwynedd A. Benders, Michael G. Montague, Li Ma, Monzia M. Moodie, Chuck Merryman, Sanjay Vashee, Radha Krishnakumar, Nacyra Assad-Garcia, Cynthia Andrews-Pfannkoch, Evgeniya A. Denisova, Lei Young, Zhi-Qing Qi, Thomas H. Segall-Shapiro, Christopher H. Calvey, Prashanth P. Parmar, Clyde A. Hutchison, III, Hamilton O. Smith, J. Craig Venter.

John Horgan on Science Blogs about the Venter announcement
Will synthetic life be a way to understand natural life?
The JCVI announcement

Discovery Magazine blogs
The Edge Debate

June 2009
Nick Lane, biochemist, Provost’s Venture Research Fellow in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, on the origin of life in his new book, Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution.