Neanderthal’s blush; Darwin, MD?; Y all this talk of evolution; and more!
The stereotype of Neanderthals is that they were hulking, hairy troglodytes quite different from “refined” modern humans. Now there’s even more evidence of how incorrect that stereotype is.
Can more research into “evolutionary medicine” result in saved lives?
Did fish gills evolve to help fish breathe, or did they evolve to help fish regulate body chemicals? Or did fish gills evolve at all?
Is the Y chromosome a “hot spot of evolution”—in both humans and chimpanzees?
“As is well-known, humans and chimps share 98% of their DNA,” writes ScienceNOW’s Ann Gibbons, reporting on research that suggests the human Y chromosome underwent “extraordinary” evolution in the last six million years. (As creationists have pointed out before, the 98 percent figure is exaggerated—see the links below.)
It is strange, then, that one region of the Y chromosome differs by more than 30 percent in humans and chimps. That was the surprising result of a genetic study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology geneticist David Page, whose team assumed the Y chromosome would be little different between the two species (believing both inherited Y chromosomes from our common ancestor). Instead, the human Y chromosome has many genes—about one-third—that do not exist at all in the chimpanzee’s. (The study concludes that chimps have “lost” these genes since evolving from a common ancestor with humans, though we wonder why the scientists do not conclude that humans gained the genes—perhaps because it would represent “too much” evolution in too short a time?)
Duke University geneticist Huntington Willard, commenting on the study, said, “Just when we thought we were getting the sense that we had a pretty good picture of what our genome is like and how it evolved, we get tossed this curve ball.” Of course, the alternative perspective (that our genome did not evolve) finds the news unsurprising. Chimps and humans share not a common ancestor, but a Common Designer, the Lord of heaven and earth, and therefore we need not expect nor be surprised by particular degrees of genetic similarity or difference.
Are beautiful coral reefs Charles Darwin’s best friends? Perhaps so, for according to one team of paleontologists, they serve as “general cradles of evolution.”
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