Evidence for Evolution

Evidence for Evolution - Evidence for Evolution Reading:...

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Evidence for Evolution Reading: Freeman, Chapter 23, 26
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The Fact of Evolution Evolution -the progressive change of organisms as they descend from ancestral species-is a fact. By now, the evidence for it is overwhelming and ubiquitous. It is of such obvious clinical significance in medicine that to deny it is irresponsible. That said, any explanation for its existence and mode of action is a scientific theory, which must be testable and, in theory, falsifiable. Darwin’s theory of natural selection, combined with other mechanisms of evolution discovered since Darwin, form what is known as the “modern synthesis”, the current scientific paradigm in the biological sciences. It provides a central explanation for phenomena in such diverse fields as paleontology and developmental biology, medicine and psychology.
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The existence of evolution has been proposed several times in history. For instance, the ancient Greek scientist, Animaxander, proposed a theory of evolution. In terms of modern science, it was first advanced proposed in the late 1700’s and early 1800s by several scientists including Compte de Buffon and Erasmus Darwin. The idea of evolution remained controversial for a long time, partially because it ran contrary to contemporary religious ideas and partially because no mechanism for evolution was known. Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection was the first plausible, widely-accepted mechanism for evolutionary change. By now it is well-tested, supported by hundreds of independent scientific investigations. It is also falsifiable-aspects of Darwin’s theory of evolution have been successfully challenged, others supported. This is the case for the other mechanisms of evolution as well.
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Examples of the clinical significance of evolutionary biology to medicine HIV. HIV is a retrovirus of enormous medical concern. Because of evolutionary studies, we know that two separate lineages of this retrovirus passed into the human population from African Apes in the mid 20 th century. This knowledge has alerted us to the danger of emergent diseases from other animal hosts, a reason for our concern about SARS and bird flu. In addition, it is an understanding of evolutionary biology that has enabled us to develop a therapy for HIV. The so-called “triple therapy” HIV treatment is an example of evolutionary medicine. A single drug will not work against the disease because the virus evolves so quickly, it attains resistance to every drug we have within a few months. By using three drugs simultaneously, we subvert the evolution of the virus…evolving resistance to one drug means loosing resistance to another.
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Antibiotic resistance is an evolutionary phenomenon of tremendous clinical significance. Early in the 20
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Evidence for Evolution - Evidence for Evolution Reading:...

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