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EPS 201 Outline – Ancestor’s Tale By Richard Dawkins Ancestor’s Tale Outline 0. General Prologue a. How do we date the past? b. Fossils: Discusses how fossils form and what we can determine from them. Evaluates the difference between common conception of fossils and scientific usage of fossils. Speaks of the interest in fossils and some history regarding the discovery and cataloging of fossils. Discusses “relative dating” and problems that surround it. Compares fossils to the “written records” of history. c. Discusses DNA – compares it to language, and contrasts it from language by discussing the overwhelming presence of exons as compared to the amount of introns. Discusses the problems of the preservation of DNA and the loss to knowledge in natural history. Wraps up with analysis of present-day DNA being a record of the ancestral history of an animal’s heritage. d. Triangulation: Compares the linguistic practice of comparison and contrast in language with the practice of comparison and contrast of different species’ DNA for the purpose of reconstructing the DNA of the past, or at least assembling an approximation thereof. The use of various species’ DNA to contruct a phylogenetic history is also discussed. e. Wraps up prologue discussing a comparison of the book with Chaucer. Brief mention on the status and nomenclature of species applied in taxonomy. 1. The Pilgrimage Begins a. The Farmer’s Tale: A brief treatise on the agricultural revolution, in which the human family “evolves” from a hunting and gathering species into an agricultural establishment. Challenges some anthropological assumptions as to the immediate benefits of the transition. Discusses initial artificial selection pressures exerted on domesticated species of animals and plants. Long discussion on the evolution of dogs from wolves, brief discussions on the evolution of ‘samurai crabs’ due to superstition. General discussion on “co-evolution” as it occurred as a result of artificial selection pressure. b. The Cro-Magnon’s Tale: Discusses a massive cultural revolution believed to have occurred about 40,000 years ago, perhaps associated with the onset of language among humans. Cave paintings and other cultural artifacts are discussed. 2. All Humankind: Discusses the conjecture of evolution in which the commonality of ancestral origins relates to a mathematical model that is established within the analysis of the human genome project. a. The Tasmanian’s Tale: Approximates a mathematical model of common ancestry to the approximate population of Tasmania before the massacres of the 1800s. Uses this comparison to extrapolate the ancestry of a human population and finds that the mathematical model itself is insufficient for the extrapolation of all human history. Consequently, associates carefully the ‘selfish- gene’ theory to bring about a more sober
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2011 for the course EPS 201 taught by Professor Mayaelrick during the Spring '09 term at New Mexico.

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