Convergent Evolution

Every living thing on this planet shares a common ancestor at some point in the far distant past. In some cases that common ancestor existed millions of years ago. Since that time, you will see similar adaptations develop separately that were not present in that common ancestor. A good example is bats and dolphins – two separate species that have evolved a similar methods of bio sonar to navigate the world. Convergent evolution has shown us that nature will find similar solutions under similar conditions. So too might it be on other planets. Life might not look that much different that it does here

Sound Clip Bibliography

  • “David Aguilar – Alien Worlds.” Vimeo. Accessed December 08, 2015. https://vimeo.com/125943942.
  • “Professor Simon Conway Morris FRS ET DM.mov.” YouTube. Accessed December 08, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBofPlhXlHU.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com.

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Cladistics

You’ve probably seen a cladogram before without knowing exactly what it was called. It’s a lot like a family tree. What it isn’t though is an evolutionary tree. Evolutionary trees are those large trees-of-life that show how all animals are related to one another and how they have evolved. A cladogram will show those animals that share similar form and structures. It’s not about animals which have evolved from one another.

In this episode we are going to look at clades and cladistics.  We will also create a cladogram… an audio cladogram.

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Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com.

Coevolution

Coevolution often involves an arms race. You have a predator and prey both upping the game. Like a bat and a moth. Each one trying to outdo the other.  If the change in one organism is linked to a change in another organism, genetically speaking, then coevolution is said to have occurred.

It doesn’t have to be an arms race either.  Coevolution can involve relationships that are parasitic or mutualistic as well. The end results are never the end.

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Sound Clip Bibliography

  • “20. Coevolution.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed November 8, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fukwpf2sk34.
  • “German Patriotic Song – ‘Weit Laßt Die Fahnen Wehen.’” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed November 8, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8fswp_17ym.
  • “Librivox.” LibriVox. Accessed November 8, 2015. https://librivox.org/through-the-looking-glass-dramatic-reading-by-lewis-carroll/.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com and Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

 

Misconceptions About Evolution & Natural Selection

In this episode of ‘Evolution Talk’ I am joined by a very special guest – Stephanie Keep from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).  Among her many talents as a writer and educator, Stephanie also loves to correct misconceptions that involve the science and study of evolution.

I’m not telling you anything new here to say that Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution by natural selection.  Even though it has been over 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species there  remains a bit of confusion. Especially when it is assumed that evolution and natural selection are the same thing.

In this episode we cover what natural selection is, how it applies to the fact that things evolve, and also the other mechanisms at play (yes – natural selection does not work alone!).

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Important Links

You can connect with Stephanie keep on twitter @keeps3

You can find out more about Stephanie and the NCSE here.

3D Image Scans of Homo Naledi project specimens available for download

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com and Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

 

The Predictive Power of Evolution

We can make broad predictive strokes when it comes to how an organism will evolve. But that’s all we can do. What those changes will look like, if they happen at all, is beyond our power to know.

Does this mean that theories about evolution are outside of the realm of true science?

A strong theory is testable. After analyzing a set of results you can make predictions.

But what about evolution by natural selection?  It’s a scientific theory.  But can I test it or make a prediction?  I suppose I can try but what sort of prediction would I make?  What factors can I tweak?  Can I say that when I add this gene from this animal to that animal, this will happen?  Can we can’t predict what will happen to an organism by tweaking environmental variables.  Even if we were to do so, and are able to observe an evolutionary path, it’s highly unlikely we can replicate that test.

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Sound Clip Bibliography

  • “Darwins Comet Orchid.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed August 6, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMVN1EWxfAU.
  • “Finding Tiktaalik: Neil Shubin On the Evolutionary Step from Sea to Land.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed August 6, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvdqca7rlei.
  • “Lecture By Professor Richard Dawkins at Culham Science Centre.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed August 6, 2015. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj9ogl2dt84.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear @ soundofpicture.com

 

Evolutionary Psychology

In the 17th century, philosopher John Locke explained that we were all born with a blank slate, a tabula rasa.  Everything we learn we learn by experience. We are not pre-programmed.  Some psychologists and scientists tell a different story, they would say that we aren’t born with an empty hard drive, but one with a bunch of tiny little programs bundled along with it. These programs are coded to run at certain times. They help us to navigate the world. Recognizing and understanding how these programs work could just be the key to understanding how we work.

This is what evolutionary psychology seeks to explain. It asks is why we feel the way we do in certain situations? What psychological adaptations were naturally selected to accompany us on our journey forward through time?   Just like an archaeologist digs into the sands of time to piece together the physical world, it may be possible to do the same for the psychological world.

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Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Episode Bibliography

  • “ABC News.” ABC News. ABC News Network. Accessed July 2, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/gma/video/snake-found-office-toilet-28078746.
  • “1/8 David Buss And Richard Dawkins on Evolutionary Psychology.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed July 2, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzw3lxyuheu.
  • “How The Elephant Got His Trunk : Joshua Somerton : Free Download &Amp; Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. Accessed July 2, 2015. https://archive.org/details/howtheelephantgothistrunk.
  • “Richard Dawkins Talking to Steven Pinker about Evolution and the Mind.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed July 2, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azbsgird5km.
  • “Steven Pinker — On Psychology and Human Nature.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed July 2, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_lffypvlge.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear @ soundofpicture.com