This past week on our FaceBook page we featured science news with an evolution theme. If you missed it, we posted a number of articles, videos, and even a few trivia questions, on evolution. Check out our FaceBook page or the use the #evolution hashtag to see some of those results. Our next theme week will be in December, so if you have suggestions, let us know either on Facebook, Twitter, or using the Contact us link above.
Popular Posts from our FaceBook Page
It’s always been known that today’s dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, have always been closely related to wolves. According to archaeological evidence, dogs represent an offshoot of the modern wolf that was domesticated by ancient humans some 15-20,000 years ago. However, new biological evidence points to a slightly different story. 18,000 years ago, a different kind of wolf prowled the wilds of pre-civilization Europe. This now extinct species shares many genetic similarities to today’s dogs, yet comparatively few with other 21st century wolf species, including the modern European wolf. This means that dogs are, in fact, the last decedents of an ancient wolf species previously unknown to science, rather than being simply a domesticated offshoot of the common European Wolf.
Life on Purple Planets
If you had to look elsewhere in the universe for life – where would you start? Biology suggests a purple planet would be a good candidate, and here is why:
Rate of Evolutionary Change Greatest in High-Elevation Grasslands
Where on the planet is life evolving the fastest? You might think of islands such as Hawaii, or the Galapagos – but the real location might just be high-elevation grasslands, called the Paramos, in the Andes mountains. The Paramos are considered as seas of life in the otherwise barren mountains. Located between 9,000 and 15,000 feet up in the mountains, these grasslands are home to a wide variety of plant life. Like other island chains, some of these forms are unique, including a type of plant related to the daisy that is as tall as a tree. By measuring DNA mutation rates, scientists suggest that life here is changing at a faster pace than other island chains.
For more on this story, including the history of the Paramos and how scientists measured the rates of evolutionary change, see the article by Science | The New York Times below
Video: The Theory of Evolution
If we are going to talk about evolution all week, it may be a good idea to have a decent background on the basics! If starting with a cell, the DNA in the cell replicates and the cell divides to make exact copies of the original. As more copies are made, the organism can grow. The genetic codes of the organisms are passed down through the generations by reproduction. However, changes in the genes can happen due to who mates with who or environmental factors that may favor one trait over another!
The Editors’ Choices
Four Comets in One Month!!
While this did not exactly fall into our evolution theme this week (although comets did play a big role in getting the planet ready for life) – but when was the last time you could see 4 comets in one night sky??
Great Examples of Evolution
From Darwin’s finches to the wild guppies of Trinidad, Natural Selection and Evolution have caused some amazing changes in the biology of dozens of the world’s species. Check out some of the most incredible examples in this list by Wired magazine:
New on RicochetScience!
We posted a new video on our Vimeo channel this week – “Electronegativity and Polar Bonds”.