Evolution Among Lineages

Evolution Among Lineages - Evolution Among Lineages The...

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Evolution Among Lineages The Pattern of Macroevolution Evolution is not progress. The popular notion that evolution can be represented as a series of improvements from simple cells, through more complex life forms, to humans (the pinnacle of evolution), can be traced to the concept of the scale of nature. This view is incorrect. All species have descended from a common ancestor. As time went on, different lineages of organisms were modified with descent to adapt to their environments. Thus, evolution is best viewed as a branching tree or bush, with the tips of each branch representing currently living species. No living organisms today are our ancestors. Every living species is as fully modern as we are with its own unique evolutionary history. No extant species are "lower life forms," atavistic stepping stones paving the road to humanity. A related, and common, fallacy about evolution is that humans evolved from some living species of ape. This is not the case -- humans and apes share a common ancestor. Both humans and living apes are fully modern species; the ancestor we evolved from was an ape, but it is now extinct and was not the same as present day apes (or humans for that matter). If it were not for the vanity of human beings, we would be classified as an ape. Our closest relatives are, collectively, the chimpanzee and the pygmy chimp. Our next nearest relative is the gorilla. Evidence for Common Descent and Macroevolution Microevolution can be studied directly. Macroevolution cannot. Macroevolution is studied by examining patterns in biological populations and groups of related organisms and inferring process from pattern. Given the observation of microevolution and the knowledge that the earth is billions of years old -- macroevolution could be postulated. But this extrapolation, in and of itself, does not provide a compelling explanation of the patterns of biological diversity we see today. Evidence for macroevolution, or common ancestry and modification with descent, comes from several other fields of study. These include: comparative biochemical and genetic studies, comparative developmental biology, patterns of biogeography, comparative morphology and anatomy and the fossil record. Closely related species (as determined by morphologists) have similar gene sequences. Overall sequence similarity is not the whole story, however. The pattern of differences we see in closely related genomes is worth examining. All living organisms use DNA as their genetic material, although some viruses use RNA. DNA is composed of strings of nucleotides. There are four different kinds of nucleotides: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). Genes are sequences of nucleotides that code for proteins. Within a gene, each block of three nucleotides is called a codon. Each codon designates an amino acid (the subunits of proteins). The three letter code is the same for all organisms (with a few exceptions). There are 64 codons,
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course BIO BSC1010 taught by Professor Gwenhauner during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Evolution Among Lineages - Evolution Among Lineages The...

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